When frontmen go on solo tours as rumors of new albums swirl, there is a good chance they’ll road-test some possible material on you. These performances used to be intimate moments: an artist sharing something that was, at that point in time, reserved only for those lucky enough to be in the audience. But now that anyone can whip out their phone, press record, and have it uploaded to YouTube by the time the next song begins, these moments have become a little less confidential. And now we’re in on it, too.
Wilco tours almost constantly, and it feels like when they aren’t on the road, frontman Jeff Tweedy is. While the Chicago-based band takes some time out to record its eighth studio album to be released later this summer on its own label, dBpm, Tweedy took a short tour around the Great White North and surrounding states with two new cuts in tow that may or may not give us any sense of the shape LP8 will take.
The first came during a March performance at Montreal’s Olympia Theatre, where Tweedy unvieled some of his signature cryptic verses on the tentatively titled “Born Alone.” The dark and imagery-heavy lyrics recall some of his best abstruse word play, from “She’s A Jar” to “Radio Cure,” but mixed with as much introspection as can be found on A Ghost Is Born–a depature from the more straightforward lyrical approach emerging on recent albums.
I have heard the water worry of the gospel very fast across a void
I have married broken spoon charging smoke wings, spit and swallowed opioids
I am the driver at the wheel of the horror, marching circles at the gate
Mine eyes have seen the fury so fettered by our fate
The second came during Tweedy’s stop on CBC with Canada’s response to George Stephanopoulos, The Hour With George Strombolopolous. Performing in front of the studio audience, he debuted a more standard-fare, though sweet, ballad called “Open Your Mind” that wouldn’t feel out of place nestled beside “Please Be Patient With Me” or “Solitaire.”
As more potential material sees the light of day, which direction do you see Wilco’s eighth studio LP going?
– Catherine DeGennaro, host of Hipsters Don’t Lie, Sundays 6-8pm on WGTB