If Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was the White Album, then Wilco’s A Ghost is Born is Abbey Road. Released in June by Nonesuch Records, A Ghost is Born features brilliant compositions and poetic lyrics that form what may be the album of the year. Independent producer Jim O’Rourke of DragCity fame has teamed up with Jeff Tweedy and Wilco to deliver 12 solid ballads that hearken back to the Beatles and Dylan.
It isn’t so much the instrumentation that makes this album special, it’s Tweedy’s poetic lyrics in tandem with deliberated composition that create this unforgettable sound. Tweedy presents a modern temptation of Christ in “Hell is Chrome,” citing “When the devil came, he was not red, he was chrome and he said come with me.” Tweedy may have taken a stab at the recent Catholic controversies in “Theologians,” who “don’t know nothin’ ’bout my soul,” he sang, because “God is with us every day.” While Tweedy’s intent remains unclear, the lyrics in this album are more provocative than most.
Enclosed headphones gave the best appraisal of O’Rourke’s vision during production, but A Ghost is Born rocks just as hard in the car or at home. His songs are notorious for surprising mood swings, so don’t be fooled by the soft sullen piano that opens the first track; listen further. For fans, this album is a gem, and even for those who aren’t fans, A Ghost is Born is definitely an album worthy of consideration.