Wilco's latest album marks another turning point for the band. With the arrival of new band members Nels Cline and Pat Sansone, the band's sound has morphed. Their previous raw, disjointed and fantastically intricate sound has become a more filtered and smoother sound that touches on several styles.
For those accustomed to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or earlier Wilco sounds, Sky Blue Sky is a change of pace, but more than worth having. Bits of the same disorderly Wilco rock, the same flavor of Jeff Tweedy's voice, are still present, but with a new more mellow feel and more continuity in style.
Nels Cline's plethora of musical experience (Willie Nelson to Sonic Youth, and free jazz artistry among others) are evident in his contributions on this record. They facilitate an alteration in the whole atmosphere of Wilco's music. "Impossible Germany," "Either Way" and "Side with Seeds" feature his wonderfully intimate, harmonized guitar work, accompanied by sensitive, but stable pedal points from the rest of the band. These sorts of solos/jams lead Wilco even closer to a style overrun with a jam-band labeling. However, the band retains their distinct flavor that keeps their listener on their toes, away from a generic categorization.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of Wilco's latest record is the peaceful feeling that comes across in their music. Unlike much of their beautifully frustrated earlier work, they seem to have found a new home. This feeling of satisfaction seemed evident among the band members when watching them live not long ago. There's a change in the color of their music, as if they have finally found something they lost long ago.