Wilco

Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)

Wilco may be the essence of eclectic indulgence. Shedding their Americana visage with 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, they successfully redefined themselves as an experimental outfit dealing in atmospheric soundscapes and sonic contradiction. Their daring was rewarded with a pair of Grammy nods for their follow-up, A Ghost Is Born,while 2005's Kicking Television: Live in Chicago showed their savvy outside the studio. Still, those who found the band's shift in direction somewhat daunting can take comfort in its latest outing, a surprisingly mellow encounter that harks back to its earliest efforts. "Maybe the sun will shine today, the clouds will blow away," Jeff Tweedy sings on opening track "Either Way," and from that point on, there's little trace of the cosmic disturbances that took them slightly off-kilter. Indeed, most of the album is spent in an easy drift, with only "You Are My Face" and "Shake It Off" working up any sense of distortion. Fortunately, though, they don't drift entirely into the ether. "Walken" finds a jaunty groove, not unlike the breezy spin of Jerry Garcia helming the Grateful Dead, while "What Light" recalls Wilco's rootsy origins, a lovely ballad with a winsome embrace. In fact, with Sky Blue Sky, it's rare to find any trace of turbulence.

 
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