Indie rock icons Wilco are taking a wild turn with their latest album – they’re going full country. The band has always made music with a twang, but that was always a compliment to their sound, not their identity. With the announcement of the double-disc Cruel Country, the band has let their southern side take control.
In a statement announcing the musical shift, Jeff Tweedy wrote, “There have been elements of country music in everything we’ve ever done… We’ve never been particularly comfortable with accepting that definition, the idea that I was making country music. But now, having been around the block a few times, we’re finding it exhilarating to free ourselves within the form, and embrace the simple limitation of calling the music we’re making Country.”
On April 28, the band previewed the album with the single “Falling Apart (Right Now),” which contains the heartfelt lyrics, “Why don’t you get in line, behind the tears I’m crying/ I know our hearts are very smart/ But you’re gonna have to learn, learn when it isn’t your turn somehow/ Cuz I’m gonna be the only one falling apart right now.”
Cruel Country was recorded almost entirely with live takes, with the band playing together in a room at The Loft in Chicago. The style of recording, according to Tweedy, helps the band members embrace their own musical imperfections.
The album will also tell a “loose conceptual on the history of the United States” unfolding chronologically, “It isn’t always direct and easy to spot, but there are flashes of clarity. “It’s all mixed up and mixed in, the way my personal feelings about America are often woven with all of our deep collective myths. Simply put, people come and problems emerge. Worlds collide. It’s beautiful. And cruel.”