Listen: Jeff Tweedy collaboration a triumph of mellow gold

SHARE Listen: Jeff Tweedy collaboration a triumph of mellow gold

BY MARK GUARINO | SUN-TIMES MUSIC WRITER

A father and son collaboration drives “Sukierae” (dBpm), a debut album from Tweedy, a band helmed by Wilco auteur Jeff Tweedy and his 18-year-old son and drummer Spencer Tweedy. While not technically a solo album by either musician, this duo record, released Tuesday, spans 20 songs over more than 70 minutes with just as many moods. Much here will be familiar to fans of the Wilco mothership, but there are many new detours to savor.

This is an album for deep listening, not just because it spans many styles, but also because of its sense of elusiveness. There are some straightforward songs here — the 90-second punk opener “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and melting power pop of “Low Key,” in particular — but the music more often dodges easy categorization and instead offers its finest rewards in small pockets.

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The folk-strewn psychedelics of “Diamond Light – Part 1” begin with a simple rumble beat, which leads to Tweedy’s vocal and guitar twined to a single melody line; twinkling keyboards and guitar noise later bubble up, creating an expansive and swirling sound that is perfect inside headphones. That sense of disappearing is evident throughout. On “Pigeons,” lo-fi acoustic and sweetly fingerpicked, Tweedy sings, with advice, “It’s not how they tell it, it’s not how they say/your heart’s in your mind and your mind’s in the way.”

Like any sonic road trip, there are stops along the way that slow the momentum. However the songs with the strongest pop sensibilities are often those that are the quietest, with arrangements that stretch open. “New Moon,” dusty and hushed, has Tweedy with a plea: “When you fall asleep, let me be what you’re dreaming for.” On “Down From Above,” the song emerges from jazz minimalism; the talking vocals are best compared to the alt-folk of singer-songwriter Bill Callahan.

Despite the family bond, and a 20-plus-year pedigree behind the music, “Sukirae” sounds freed from familiarity. The music, worn but continuously graceful, is living in new space.

Mark Guarino is a local freelance writer.

Tweedy and “Summer Noon”:

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