Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy went into the studio setting out to record a solo album, I bet he could never have imagined what ending up transpiring . Tweedy knew it wouldn’t be just another guitar and vocals solo album, he was going to be playing various instruments himself. Yet, when his 18-year-old son Spencer stepped into the studio during the demo sessions his drum playing led something to click. Jeff stated in an interview with Laurie Tuffrey, from Quietus, “[Spencer] helped the songs take shape,” and in that sense the album is a solo album performed by a duo, reflected in the band’s name: Tweedy. The album title, Sukierae, furthers the connection to the family affair; Jeff’s wife’s Sue (nicknamed Sukie Rae) presently battles lymphoma. The highly emotional title prepares the listener from the beginning for a very personal album.
The 20 song 72 minute album seems like a daunting task to dive into, but rewards listeners with emotional experience. First, if any of you think that Jeff just let his son Spencer on the album because it was the fatherly thing to do, you’re mistaken. Give “Diamond Light Pt. 1” a listen and tell me the 18-year-old isn’t the backbone of the song; Spencer can flat-out play. Songs like “Nobody Dies Anymore”, “Wait For Love”, and “I’ll Never Know” feel despairingly dark, but yet the light-hearted guitar melodies materialize hope somewhere in the not so distant background. Not all tracks carry such a heavy tone to them, when Jeff wails “I’m so high as hello” in “High As Hello” the listener can feel how intoxicating meeting someone for the first time can be. Throughout the album Tweedy relates to the emotions of listeners everywhere; “New Moon” portrays the yearning we all feel for the ones we love to reciprocate the feelings. Jeff’s piano and guitar playing paired with Spencer’s drumming exemplifies the lyrical weight of each tune by creating a roller coaster of emotions.
For the avid Wilco fan Sukierae doesn’t compare to the likes of Yankee Foxtrot Hotel (it’s a tad slow at points), but should not be discarded as just another guitar and vocals solo album. Take the album out to somewhere sunny and secluded place so you may soak up all of the raw emotion headphones before handing out your verdict. I promise it will paint a better emotional landscape and give you a better appreciation for the Father-Son combination.
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