On the day The Whole Love streamed on Wilco’s website, my internet connection timed out four times during my lunch break and I only ended up getting to hear the opener ‘Art of Almost’ over and over again. I wasn’t disappointed—that song grabs you by the scruff of the neck, and I relished the repeat listens—but it did set me up for future disappointment. For the few days before I could get my hands on the whole album, I was expecting The Whole Love to be Wilco’s Embryonic, preparing myself for a bitches’ brew of dark, experimental rock.
Well, The Whole Love definitely isn’t a rock record, and (with the exception of ‘Almost’, which, though incredible, is starting to stand out like a sore thumb on repeat listens) it’s not that experimental either. And in this case that’s a really, really good thing. A handful of perfect pop songs rival Summerteeth’s best (“I Might”, “Dawned On Me”, “Born Alone”) and the gentler cuts succeed where Sky Blue Sky failed (“Black Moon”, “Rising Red Lung”). What really excites me, though, is Tweedy’s emergence as a songwriter’s songwriter. His lyrics—especially on “Born Alone” and the incredible “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)”—really stand up to repeat listens and deep digging. More than Tweedy’s past lyrics, they’re direct yet poetic, clearly communicating something while keeping the mystery intact.
I’m noticing themes of family and home life, spirituality and faith and life on the road, and I’m excited to dig deeper. We’ll see if the excitement wears off as the spin count grows. Regardless, “One Sunday Morning” is absolutely essential listening, whether you’re a Wilco fan or not. Expect a post on it down the road. Share your thoughts if you have ‘em!