Oh, Wilco. This ablum, “The Whole Truth,” has been disappointing for me. I feel like I should like it more, and the fact that I only like it somewhat is almost certainly a reflection on my inability to recognize high quality music.
Last Tuesday, the day the album was released, Mayor Emanuel proclaimed it “Paint the Town Red Day in Chicago”, supposedly in honor of the play “Red” about artist Mark Rothko. I knew, however, just KNEW that it was the mayor’s thinly disguised means of celebrating the release of the Wilco album. Rahm (I call him by his first name when discussing music) is quite famously a Wilco fan, so I can only imagine how pumped he was about the new album (we were not able to catch up in person for firsthand impressions). I rose to the occasion and bought the album first thing Tuesday morning, anxious to start loving it.
I waited all week to love it, but I never got past acceptable background music. I always figure if I don’t agree with the reviewers, I’m probably “wrong” about my assessment, so I can only tell you that I wasn’t blown away by this. And one of my kids actually seemed repelled by the music while I was making a nice Sunday brunch yesterday, changing to her own playlist when I left the room for two seconds. I’m always on the lookout for music that both Mother and Child will enjoy, so I wouldn’t classify this one as a wild success.
Indeed, Rolling Stone gave this album 4 out of 5 stars, and the Chicago Tribune gave it 3 out of 4, solidifying my “wrong” assessment. I’ve read several interviews with frontman Jeff Tweedy, who enthusiastically shared that he let everyone do whatever they wanted on this album. If one of the band members had an idea, they were encouraged to run with it. He touted this as trust, but to me things just sounded like they were kind of a mess. Nothing was up-tempo enough to be catchy, and some of the songs gravitated toward jam sessions, which usually bugs me. Some of the other songs just sounded kind of slow and “eh”.
I should say that I really like Wilco. “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” is one of my favorite albums, and I absolutely love what Tweedy did with gospel legend Mavis Staples last year on her album, “You Are Not Alone.” Wilco’s talent is fairly widely recognized, but this one was a miss for me because I’m comparing Wilco to the Wilco I love and this wasn’t it.
And I’m still waiting for Rahm to return my call so that we can meet at Starbucks and chat about “The Whole Truth.”
Here is Wilco performing what might be my favorite song on the album, "Born Alone."
Filed under: Album Reviews