's fifth studio album, A Ghost Is Born
, didn't come equipped with quite the same artsy, experimental flourishes as the album's infamous predecessor, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
, it made officially clear that the band's days in the world of alt-country had long since passed. Sky Blue Sku
(2007) finds the band not so much in a holding pattern, but rather a state of artistic contentment. The album moves one step further away from Jim O'Rourke's atmospheric production style, and finds a pleasant mid-tempo groove that reminds one of PRETZEL LOGIC-era Steely Dan, mid-period Dylan, and even certain elements of John Lennon's solo work.
Of course this is still Jeff Tweedy's band, which means Sky Blue Sky never strays too far from what has emerged as a basic Wilco template. The constantly shifting Chicago ensemble (in its umpteenth incarnation by the album's release) still displays an instrumental precision and studio professionalism while working within a newfangled roots template, and Tweedy himself remains as searching as always, both lyrically and musically. With nary a rave-up in sight, the album could be criticized for being overly serene, but in a career marked by nearly constant tumult and controversy, it's more appropriate to see this as Jeff Tweedy's much needed and well-earned rest.