"It took me 18 years to do this solo record," dad-joked Jeff Tweedy from the stage at Toronto's Urban Roots Festival this summer, "because I had to grow a drummer." Originally conceived as a solo project for the Wilco frontman on which he'd play all the instruments, Tweedy found that he preferred the sound of his compositions when accompanied by his teenage son's thoughtful drumming. It's easy to see why. Spencer Tweedy has a light touch, and an enviable musical sensitivity; he is a drummer in the Brain Blade vein, more concerned with tone and texture than mere timekeeping. The ideal complement to his dad's curious, complex songs, Spencer's playing is propulsive and cerebral. Their interplay, especially on "Diamond Light Pt. 1," "Hazel" and "World Away" is inspired.
Much of the music on Sukierae is close in spirit and mood to Tweedy's work with Loose Fur, a Wilco side-project that released two albums of often mysterious avant-rock in the mid-2000s. But, spread across 20 tracks — it's said that Tweedy had as many as 90 to work with — what stands out most of all is the remarkable depth of Tweedy's musical well. From lo-fi folk ("Pigeons") to off-kilter rock ("Don't Let Me Be So Understood") to minimalist dreamscapes ("Down From Above") to reflective indie rock ("I'll Sing It"), the sprawling Sukierae has a little something for everyone. Even if, at 72 minutes, it overstays its welcome a bit, there's no denying the vital talent on display at every turn. (dBpm)