Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy To Release New Solo Acoustic Album

Jeff Tweedy is turning 50 this year, and it looks like he’s got legacy on his mind. Why shouldn’t he have? He is one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. Tweedy’s lyrics may not carry the emotional resonance of those of the big Rock Masters, but his disjointed and non-linear explorations of alienation and self-doubt seemed perfectly suited to the Nineties and the 2000s. And when it comes to melody, chord and song structure, very few artists have ever been able to match Tweedy’s uncanny ability to repurpose a wide spectrum of familiar Rock idioms into such fresh new forms.

He is a Rock Giant in my book, and has earned the conceit of revisiting and celebrating what he has created in his back catalogue. It was announced this week that he is releasing an album of solo acoustic reinterpretations of 11 of his songs. The collection will be called Together At Last and will be available on dBpm Records on June 23.

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At this point in his career, he’s got a lot of material to work with. There are the ten studio albums with Wilco, four albums from his first band Uncle Tupelo, three or four from his side projects Loose Fur, Golden Smog and The Minus Five, as well as one the devoted Dad recorded with his son Spencer under the name Tweedy a couple of years ago.

Stripping down to voice and acoustic guitar will always reveal the strengths and weaknesses of any song, and it’s fascinating to see his choice of the eleven songs to be given this treatment. The tracklist includes two or three of Wilco’s most famous songs plus a bunch of album cuts and side project material. I’m guessing that Tweedy chose these particular songs as being representative of the range of his writing, as opposed to being the best songs he ever wrote.

It’s interesting that three of the songs – “Via Chicago”, “In A Future Age” and “I’m Always In Love” – are from 1999’s Summerteeth, Wilco’s “Pop” record Tweedy made working very closely with brilliant multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett. No other album has that many songs covered on Together At Last. There are two from Wilco’s biggest album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the perennial favorite “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” as well as “Ashes Of American Flags”, one of Tweedy’s most devastatingly powerful lyrics.

Apparently this album is the first volume in a series that will be called the Loft Acoustic Sessions that Tweedy will record at the band’s Chicago studio The Loft. I assume this means that other artists will be coming in and reinterpreting their own material too. It’s a great idea, but they better be damn good songwriters if they want to pull it off successfully.

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