Jeff Tweedy: Love Is the King (dBpm) Review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Love Is the King

dBpm

Oct 23, 2020 Jeff Tweedy Bookmark and Share


Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy is effervescing before our eyes. Approaching his mid-50s, the man has given more of himself in the past two years than some artists do in a career. Setting aside his first solo album under his own name in 2017 (which contained primarily acoustic takes on Wilco songs), he has since released two further solo albums of original material (WARM and WARMER), a Wilco album (Ode to Joy), two books, a documentary soundtrack (Showbiz Kids), and now a third solo album. There’s likely something missing from that list.

David Crosby had a later in life flurry of new albums, but that was after a 20-plus year hiatus. Tweedy has never stopped going since Uncle Tupelo’s 1990 debut, but the surge over the past two years has been nothing short of an artistic eruption. As if there were a deadline looming for an artist that compared to his forebears still has plenty of runway ahead. Going back and listening to WARM and WARMER, the albums have more full band heft to them than you might recall. Love Is the King was recorded primarily with older son Spencer on drums and younger son Sammy on harmony vocals in a few spots. And in spite of the electric guitar coming more to the fore here, the album has a more insular and comfortable feel overall.

Some of the punchier songs have a distinct country flavor in spite of not revisiting the pedal steel of the prior albums. “Opaline” mines honky tonk territory with stray notes keeping it typically Tweedy off-kilter. He implores of the subject of the song “make believe that you still love me” in a relationship he acknowledges no dominion over. The folkier shuffle of “Natural Disaster” has Tweedy standing in the observant shoes of Woody Guthrie. The song sonically sits somewhere between “Ramblin’ Man” and “Tennessee Stud” and makes for a fun-loving centerpiece as Tweedy flavors it with some blistering runs.

For a man that has surrounded himself with some of the best players out there, Tweedy gives maestro Nels Cline a run for his money in several spots here. The tangled solos that emerge from “Gwendolyn” provide an element of discord to the mid-tempo song and recall the noisier moments of Sky Blue Sky. Son Spencer emerges as an accomplished drummer as well—whether providing a sympathetic thump on the smoldering “Bad Day Lately” or slapping away more earnestly on the Neil Young flavored “Guess Again.”

Though recorded under lockdown, the songs may be maudlin in spots but don’t directly address the situation at hand. Primarily Love Is the King has the air of what it in fact is: a man comfortable in his own skin recording a set of songs with his talented kids. There is a wistfulness to living more than half your life to get to the point of feeling you have your shit together and, as parents, having brought infants forward to adults. Tweedy puts an exclamation point to that moment of balance in the closer “Half-Asleep.” He concedes “half of me believes we will never die,” as a testimony to finding a muse in that welcome spot. We have all been amply rewarded by Tweedy’s increased productivity and transparency over the past few years. He could be as in awe of his own proliferation as we all are, but regardless, the cornucopia that began its curve two autumns ago has delivered an abundance of gifts. It’s a lot to be blessed with. (www.wilcoworld.net)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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Dave
October 23rd 2020
10:01pm

Tweedy doesn’t equal Nels guitar-wise.  .WTF!?!