Sky Blue Sky
Sky Blue Sky famously spawned the term “dad-rock” – after the adventurous A Ghost Is Born, it’s a surprisingly subdued record. While Uncle Tupelo were defiantly part of the post-punk/alternative mindset, Sky Blue Sky takes many of its cues from pre-punk influences, like The Band, Van Morrison, and Steely Dan.
There is some genuinely terrific material on Sky Blue Sky, despite the subdued sound; ‘Impossible Germany’ evolves from an elegant melody into a great guitar workout, almost reminiscent of Television with the angular soloing over a weird riff. ‘Hate It Here’ showcases the dual keyboardists’ chops with its jazzy grooves, as Tweedy delivers memorable lines like “What am I gonna do when I run out of lawn to mow?” ‘You Are My Face’ showcases the new line-up’s capabilities for tight interplay and weird riffs, while the last two songs are charming and low key.
‘Walken’ hits a nice guitar riff intermittently but isn’t that memorable otherwise, while the climax of ‘Shake It Off’ just isn’t as thrilling as the lengthy workouts like ‘Spiders (Kidsmoke)’ on A Ghost Is Born. Likewise, some of the slower stuff isn’t particularly exciting either; songs like ‘Please Be Patient With Me’ and ‘Leave Me Like You Found Me’ just don’t have strong enough vocal melodies to connect, even if they’re emotional and sincere.
Sky Blue Sky is a very controlled, disciplined record and it’s a worthy enough addition to Wilco’s catalogue, but it was the band’s least notable album for quite some time.