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Wilco - Cruel Country (Album Review)

Wednesday, 01 June 2022 Written by Huw Baines

There is a warmth to Wilco’s ‘Cruel Country’ that doesn’t extend as far as its lyric sheet. It is a languid, patient dive into a world of acoustic and slide guitars, with Jeff Tweedy’s weather-beaten voice imparting easy charm and gruff gravity to each stop along the way. His words, though, speak of division and lingering hurt. “I love my country, stupid and cruel,” he sings on the title track. “Red, white, and blue.”

The band understand this genre completely, and can tap into the push-pull dynamic of its gentle exterior and hidden sting almost at will. Given its length—21 songs in just under two hours—repeated listening reveals surprising pockets of melody in out of the way places, with poisonous barbs lurking just around the next corner.​†

Tired of Taking it Out on You, for example, is a loping, sunny song about lived-in domestic apathy. “Freeze my warmth away,” Tweedy sings. “Tear the tears out of your quiet face.”

Returning to a live mode of recording following 2019’s austere ‘Ode to Joy’, ‘Cruel Country’ benefits from some characterful playing and natural, unfussy presentation.

The easy clip at which its more hook-based songs move is countered by long-form, magnetic performances such as guitarist Nels Cline’s solo on Many Worlds, which might be described as Peter Buck opening the taps at the ​​Ryman Auditorium.

Cline continues to bring a woolly, adventurous edge to Wilco’s music, pushing them almost into jam band territory at times. It’s testament to the solidity of Tweedy’s writing that he can get away with it time and time again—at no point does ‘Cruel Country’ feel anything other than deliberate in its concept and execution. It’s the guy in the corner of the bar who doesn’t talk much but has the best stories, the ones that really hurt.

Wilco Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri August 12 2022 - CEDAR RAPIDS Iowa - Paramount Theatre - Cedar Rapids (USA)
Sun August 14 2022 - INDIANAPOLIS Indiana - TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park (USA)
Tue August 16 2022 - NEWPORT Kentucky - PromoWest Pavilion at OVATION (USA)
Wed August 17 2022 - INTERLOCHEN Michigan - Kresge Auditorium at Interlochen Center for the Arts (USA)
Thu August 18 2022 - TORONTO Ontario - Budweiser Stage (Canada)
Sat August 20 2022 - MONTREAL Quebec - MTELUS (Canada)
Sun August 21 2022 - COOPERSTOWN New York - Brewery Ommegang (USA)
Tue August 23 2022 - LA FAYETTE New York - Beak & Skiff Apple Hill Campus (USA)
Wed August 24 2022 - SHELBURNE Vermont - Ben & Jerry's Concerts on The Green (USA)
Thu August 25 2022 - GILFORD New Hampshire - Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion (USA)
Sat August 27 2022 - NEW HAVEN Connecticut - Westville Music Bowl (USA)
Sun August 28 2022 - MARTHAS VINEYARD Massachusetts - Beach Road Weekend (USA)
Fri September 09 2022 - MADISON Wisconsin - Sylvee - WI (USA)
Sun September 11 2022 - FARGO North Dakota - Outdoors at Fargo Brewing Company (USA)
Mon September 12 2022 - SIOUX FALLS South Dakota - Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science (USA)
Wed September 14 2022 - MORRISON Colorado - Red Rocks Amphitheatre (USA)
Thu September 15 2022 - SANTA FE New Mexico - Santa Fe Opera (USA)
Sat September 17 2022 - SAN DIEGO California - Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre (USA)
Tue September 20 2022 - BEND Oregon - Hayden Homes Amphitheater (USA)
Wed September 21 2022 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - Queen Elizabeth Theatre - Vancouver (Canada)
Fri September 23 2022 - CALGARY Alberta - Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (Canada)
Sat September 24 2022 - BOZEMAN Montana - Elm - Bozeman (USA)
Tue October 04 2022 - NEW ORLEANS Louisiana - Civic Theatre (USA)
Wed October 05 2022 - NEW ORLEANS Louisiana - Civic Theatre (USA)

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