Jeff Tweedy, frontman of Wilco for nearly 20 years, seems to have hit that point in his career where he can do just about whatever he darn well pleases. Luckily for me though, the things that please Tweedy are pretty pleasing to me too.
Temporarily separating himself from the other guys of Wilco and teaming up with his 18-year-old drummer son Spencer, Jeff has released a solo double album entitled Sukierae under the band name Tweedy. After just beginning to work on the album, Jeff’s wife was diagnosed with lymphoma and, as he recently explained to Rolling Stone, the album turned into a way for Jeff to process and deal with his wife’s illness. (Even the album’s title, Sukierae, is his wife’s nickname.)
Though the 20-song record does have a few slightly more up-beat electric guitar jams, the bulk of the record is acoustic and incredibly intimate, both musically and lyrically. On “New Moon,” which has one of the greatest examples of this feeling of intimacy and sweetness, Jeff sings, “I’ve always been certain, nearly all of my life/One day I’d be your burden and you’d be my wife.” “Pigeons,” another excellent track, is low and mumbly, but so cozy and full of love.
Among the more up-beat, plugged-in tracks is “I’ll Sing It,” which has a bit of a heavier rock feel to it and added “yeah yeah yeah” female backing vocals. “Low Key,” a poppy, Beatles-like tune, incorporates similar female vocals and feels the most like a Wilco song of any of the tracks here.
By no means could this album ever be mistaken as a record created to fulfill a contractual obligation; it is clearly deeply personal and loving. By mixing intimate and heart-felt songs with other more father-and-son-having-fun-
playing-around tracks, Sukierae is a really beautiful album.