Jeff Tweedy

Together at Last

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Generally, when the leader of a group of note makes a solo album, the purpose is to provide a platform to do something that couldn't be done within the creative boundaries of the band. That notion applies to Jeff Tweedy's first proper solo album, 2017's Together at Last, though in a rather unexpected way. For Together at Last, Tweedy literally opts not to have a band with him for a change -- this is a set of 11 tunes from his back catalog, recorded solo, with Tweedy's voice, acoustic guitar, and harmonica only occasionally reinforced with some very subtle guitar overdubs. If you've always wanted to hear Jeff Tweedy play a solo set in a whisper-quiet folk club, where his vocals don't have to compete with drums or amplifiers, then Together at Last is the absolutely next best thing. On one hand, the album invites the question of just why Tweedy opted to re-record a handful of his old tunes without his partners from Wilco or Loose Fur, and the lack of any new material makes this play like a live album with the audience conspicuous in its absence. On the other, if you don't mind the fact that these are all songs the average fan of Tweedy's work already knows rather well, you're rewarded with a set of simple but lovely performances. Jeff Tweedy may not be a virtuoso as a vocalist or a guitarist, but he absolutely knows what makes his songs work, and the intimacy of these recordings allows him to explore the nooks and crannies of the songs without having to make room for anyone else, and the results are charming, emotionally effective, and sometimes quite moving. And he's smart enough to chose a set of songs that work well stripped to their framework, and if this set is by no means "Jeff Tweedy's Greatest Hits," it does wonders to show off his estimable skills as a lyricist and spinner of melodies. If Together at Last is a minor work in Tweedy's catalog, it's a simple but genuine pleasure that may convert a few doubters who haven't been won over by Wilco's eclecticism.

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