After 24 years with Wilco, in Warm Jeff Tweedy has finally got round to releasing his first solo album of all-new material. Following the recent publication of his first set of memoirs, this follows the same pattern of introspection and reflection as he looks as much at himself as he does study the world around him, putting himself and his actions under the same keen scrutiny.
‘Bombs Above’ opens the record in a simple, stripped-back confessional style reminiscent of some of the most melancholy Eels records. Rather than feeling like time is running out, there is instead an awareness of it starting to take its toll. ‘Don’t Forget’ carries a sad acceptance of loved ones moving on (“I won’t forget the long drive, we arrived in time to say goodbye”), and that feeling of honest reflection lies over all of Warm. That doesn’t mean a permanently melancholy mood, however, with the upbeat ‘Let’s Go Rain’ and the combative talk of enemies in ‘Some Birds’ raising the pulse, and the spirits.
Tweedy finds beauty in the simplest phrases, always managing to say so much with so little. Whether it is sighing: “I hear your laugh in your laughter” in the gorgeous ‘How Hard Is It For A Desert To Die’ or the entirety of the contemplative ‘Having Been Is No Way To Be’, a lavish use of language resides throughout. Though much of the music is stately and sedate, at points it quickens and lifts. ‘I Know What It’s Like’ jollies along on jangling guitar lines, but it is with ‘The Red Brick’ that it really takes flight. A slow burning, gospel-drenched southern rock track that suddenly bursts aflame, an all-too-short fuzzy, glorious bombardment of noise rounding off a superb track.
Warm closes with the deliciously woozy ‘How Will I Find You?’, an affecting and poignant imagining of his father looking for his mother in the afterlife. There is a simple poetry in the repetitive lyrics, rounding off an exemplary record. Though it cannot help but sound like Wilco, the autobiographical nature, and beauty of the lyrics, sets it apart confidently. Indeed, in many ways it is arguably his finest, most fully-rounded record since 2009’s Wilco (The Album). A record to warm your soul indeed.