Jeff Tweedy and sons play through the crisis on Love Is the King | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Music » Music Review

Jeff Tweedy and sons play through the crisis on Love Is the King



Jeff Tweedy’s new solo album is a family affair. He made Love Is the King with his two sons: his eldest, Spencer (already a longtime musical collaborator), plays drums and organ on most of the record, while his younger son, Sammy, sings harmony on five of its 11 tracks. They recorded the album in April at Wilco’s studio and storage facility the Loft, after the Illinois shelter-in-place order put their regular spring plans on hold. The Tweedys challenged themselves to work at a consistent pace all month until the album felt finished, and its lyrics’ intimate acquaintance with dread and anxiety (as well as their unsparing self-reflection) should speak especially poignantly to anyone struggling through doubt to hold to their path. The title track opens the album with an embrace of the precarious nature of the moment, with Tweedy doing his impression of Gram Parsons in a deep funk, but Love Is the King also makes room for whimsy. “Gwendolyn,” a tale of escape from the clutches of a delinquent lover, is a sweet country-rock song with nice fat bass lines, and it inspired a fun music video starring Tweedy, who removes his surgical mask to uncover a revolving lineup of lip-syncing mouths that belong to his sons and celebrity friends, including Alex Winter, Courtney Barnett, and Elvis Costello (it reminds me of Godley & Creme’s 1985 video for “Cry”). Add in the sweet good ol’ country of “Natural Disaster” and the heartbreaking uncertainty in “Troubled” (“Some days I don’t know / By the time I let go / Shadows start at my feet,” Tweedy sings), and Love Is the King shows how a family can create something solid together even when the circumstances give them little but one another to rely on.   v

Get our free weekly Early Warnings newsletter 💌

It’s Chicago’s essential months-ahead music calendar straight to your inbox.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →