Posts Tagged ‘Love Is The King’

During the enforced idleness of the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people hatched ambitious plans: reading unreadable books, mastering a language, baking virtuous sourdough. For Jeff Tweedy, the global crisis truncated a Wilco tour, and he found himself at home with his family. His son Spencer lives at home anyway, and his other son, Sammy, returned from New York to do remote schooling.

Tweedy had tuned in to the discussion about creativity during times of quarantine, and had learned (the arguable fact) that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while sheltering from the plague. What to do? Well, in times of stress, as in all times, Tweedy’s habit is to visit his Chicago studio, The Loft. There, he planned to write a country album named after Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, producing a song a day.

“Love Is The King” is not that record. Tantalisingly, Tweedy suggests that a number of straightforward country-style songs were recorded before his own instincts started to kick in. True, if Shakespeare had gone countrypolitan, he might have taken his sense of jeopardy, his troubled masculinity, his interest in tempests as an emotional metaphor and created something similar. “Ripeness is all,” says Edgar in King Lear. “Oh, tomatoes right off the vine,” croons Tweedy in “Guess Again”, “we used to eat them like that all the time.”

This album marries Tweedy’s mature emotional outlook (love is all, and is a dream worth dreaming) to the workaday manners of Uncle Tupelo or the Woody Guthrie project, Mermaid Avenue. There’s a home video lurking on YouTube of Tweedy sitting on his sofa, strumming his way through Talking Heads’ “Heaven”. The sound of Love Is The King is what you’d expect from the bar band in that song: briskly functional, with an enduring tension between Tweedy’s balmy vocals and the electric guitar, which arrives in these songs like a deluge.

“I always think that the electric guitar player, who’s me, is the guy who’s having the toughest time dealing with everything,” Tweedy tells says. “He’s a little bit frayed. He showed up for a different type of session, his nerves are getting the better of him.”

Occasionally, broader influences seep through. The playful “Gwendolyn” has the wayward electricity of the Faces, and a heroine who sounds the sort of paramour the young Rod Stewart might have conquered and regretted. For Tweedy it acknowledges his habit of finding himself several steps behind a woman, emotionally. The title track has a languid rhythm that is almost obliterated by the guitar, and a lyric that marries the Lear-like outlook of the narrator (“At the edge/Of as bad as it gets”), to flashes of current affairs; tanks in the streets and violence.

That mood spills into “Opaline”, a honky-tonk lament that playfully blurs images of death, paranoia and dread. The inspiration for the song is more prosaic. The lyric is addressed to a golden orb-weaver spider that lived in Tweedy’s backyard through spring and summer before abruptly disappearing, presumed dead. The song’s most troubling image, of a hearse stuck at a toll gate, actually happened. Tweedy saw the funeral car, parked in its own metaphor, when escaping Chicago via the skyway to Michigan. “I kept looking in my rear-view mirror, thinking, ‘Holy shit, that’s one of the worst things I can think of,’” he says with a laugh. “A guy driving a hearse with no change for a toll.”

On paper, it sounds tormented. In reality, it doesn’t. As a singer, Tweedy patrols the trunk road between regret and resilience. Straight-legged sincerity, when he chooses to use it, is a good look: see the thankful love song “Even I Can See”Tweedy is probably more instinctively comfortable undermining himself, as on the countrified “Natural Disaster”. That song’s image of “a lightning bolt punch a bird right out of the sky” may be a nod to the sudden death of a flamingo in Charles Portis’s book The Dog Of The South. On a further literary note, Tweedy’s pal, author George Saunders, provides a couple of lines to the sprightly “A Robin Or A Wren”, a song that manages to roll together romantic devotion, love of life, fear of death, and a playful suggestion of reincarnation. Saunders’ lines are about “the end of the end of this beautiful dream”. 

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Tweedy, with his unerring ability to find himself while getting lost, ushers in a conclusion that is happy and sad, with hope kept aflame by his faith in the power of song. No matter what he does with Wilco or solo, simply one of the best songwriters alive. His lyrics are poetry. His vocal delivery invites you in and is so vulnerable. I like this a bit better than Warm, which was also brilliant. This is just another in a string of albums from artists over the pandemic that have blown me away this year.

Released October 23rd, 2020

All songs written by Jeff Tweedy
except “A Robin Or A Wren” written by Jeff Tweedy and George Saunders
Performed by Jeff Tweedy, Spencer Tweedy, and Sammy Tweedy,

4 litk clear vinyl

It was inside Jeff Tweedy’s second home, The Loft in Chicago, that “Love Is The King” was recorded in April of 2020. Surrounded by an assemblage of treasured instruments and loved ones in a world that felt more and more alien by the day. “Guess Again” is the first single from Jeff Tweedy’s forthcoming album, Tweedy recorded Love Is the King in April at the Loft in Chicago, working with his sons Spencer and Sammy. The album marks his fourth solo album in as many years,

Out on dBpm Records, “Love Is The King“, a “beautifully honest ode to love and hope,” is the follow-up to 2018’s Warm and 2019’s Warmer, and comes on the heels of Tweedy’s second book, How To Write One Song, via Penguin Random House’s Dutton. “At the beginning of the lockdown I started writing country songs to console myself. Folk and country type forms being the shapes that come most easily to me in a comforting way. Guess Again is a good example of the success I was having at pushing the world away, counting my blessings — taking stock in my good fortune to have love in my life,” comments Tweedy.

“Gwendolyn” is the third single from Jeff Tweedy’s forthcoming album Love Is The King.

The album will be released ten days after Tweedy’s second book ‘How To Write One Song’, which is published on Faber Social on October 13th. It follows his 2018 memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).

“The feeling I get when I write – the sense that time is simultaneously expanding and disappearing – that I’m simultaneously more me and also free of me – is the main reason I wanted to put my thoughts on song-writing down in book form to share with everyone so inclined,” the singer said in a statement.

“A few weeks later things began to sound like Love Is The King — a little more frayed around the edges with a lot more fear creeping in. Still hopeful but definitely discovering the limits of my own ability to self soothe.” –Jeff Tweedy.

Label dBpm Records Released 15/01/21

On Tuesday, Jeff Tweedy announced the release of his fourth solo record, Love Is The King, due out on October 23rd via dPm Records. The album serves as the follow up to 2018’s WARM and 2019’s WARMER, and sees the release of two lead singles today, “Guess Again” and the title track.

The release of the album will come on the heels of Tweedy’s second book, How To Write One Song, out October 13th via Penguin Random House. Tweedy will also perform on September 18th in a drive-in concert at the McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry, IL. For those who cannot attend the sold-out event, the Wilco frontman will also livestream the concert. Back to the present… Jeff’s announced a new book AND a new album. You might be thinking, “Where does he get all this energy?”. The answer: he’s a self-proclaimed nap enthusiast.

The book’s called How To Write One Song and it will teach you how to do just that. But at its core it’s a how-to guide on creativity and how to stay motivated. How To Write One Song hits bookshelves on October 13th . Preorder US | UK | AUS and you can get a free digital download from Jeff.

A week later (Oct. 23), you’ll hear Jeff’s third solo album, “Love Is The King” – 11 new songs written since touring came to a halt in March. Jeff went to The Loft with his sons, Spencer and Sammy, and came out with a “beautifully honest ode to love and hope” .

Love Is The King was composed by Tweedy, alongside his sons Sammy and Spencer, during the COVID-19 lockdown. Recorded in April 2020, just after Wilco was forced to abandon its North American tour, the song writing process originally began as a challenge where Tweedy tested himself to write a song everyday until he had a whole album.

“At the beginning of the lockdown I started writing country songs to console myself. Folk and country type forms being the shapes that come most easily to me in a comforting way. ‘Guess Again’ is a good example of the success I was having at pushing the world away, counting my blessings — taking stock in my good fortune to have love in my life,” Tweedy said in a press release. “A few weeks later things began to sound like ‘Love Is The King’ — a little more frayed around the edges with a lot more fear creeping in. Still hopeful but definitely discovering the limits of my own ability to self soothe.”

The album’s title track, “Love Is The King”, finds just that mix of melancholy folk song-writing that Tweedy has perfected over several decades. With his dreamy, far-away vocals and simple fingerpicking, “Love Is The King” is relatable to anyone who went through the lockdown process what feels like a lifetime ago. As for “Guess Again”, the song finds a bit more cheerful melody with percussive accompaniment to Tweedy’s acoustic guitar. The lyrics also present a brighter reality that shows, even though things are bleak now, that hope still shines through the love of another.

“Love Is The King” and “Guess Again” from Jeff Tweedy’s forthcoming album, Love Is The King, due out on October 23rd.