At the end of this week, the Black Deer Festival returns for the the first time since 2019 (those ‘early bird’ tickets now feel very early). It is surely the truest sign that life is returning to something like ‘normal’. One of AUK’s favourite festivals is resurrected and to celebrate, we’ll be featuring a video from a Black Deer artist or band every day this week to help get you in the mood. It’s a cracking line-up and, for Americana fans, they don’t get any bigger than Wilco, whose festival appearance happily coincides with the release of one of their best albums in years, possibly their best this century. On ‘Cruel Country’, the band embrace the genre they’ve kept a distance from for some time. This is unmistakably a country album but with a twist: there are layers, instruments and sounds that make it unmistakably Wilco too.
Recording together as a band for the first time since 2011’s ‘The Whole Love’, this collection of Jeff Tweedy-written songs was mostly put together with live takes. Written and recorded in this way, collaborating and contributing alongside one another, gives it an energy and an organic feel. This song, ‘Falling Apart (Right Now)’ is a fine example. It’s upbeat and full of foot-tapping rhythm, along with infectious melody and plenty of twanging guitar. Tweedy delivers some typically memorable lines: “Now don’t you fall apart // While I’m falling apart // But you’re gonna have to learn // Learn when it isn’t you turn // Somehow // ‘Cause I’m gonna be the only one // Falling apart right now.”
In the video, we’re privileged to have a glimpse of the band at work, writing, talking, recording. Throughout the video, a sign that reads ‘It could be worse’ is seen repeatedly. Well, the world feels pretty dark and uncertain these days but songs of such quality make it feel a whole lot better. Check out Wilco on the Main Stage on Saturday 18th June. With one of the richest back catalogues in Americana and a huge new album to select songs from, Wilco live will be one of the highlights of your summer.