If you’ve ever wondered what a Jeff Tweedy solo album might sound like then I direct your attention to this little known track from a 2004 compilation. Down In A Mirror turned up on eMusic earlier this year, but was originally released around the time of 2004’s A Ghost Is Born. It’s a collection of artists (also including Okkervil River, The Mountain Goats, The Dirty Projectors, and Six Organs Of Admittance) covering songs by Jandek - perhaps the most prolific and mysterious songwriter of the past 2 decades.
“Crack A Smile” is a stately mid-tempo song. Tweedy’s sad and whisperey vocals are similar to those of A Ghost Is Born songs like “Wishful Thinking” and “Less Than You Think”, but musically it builds with tympani drums and an electric guitar that’s on the verge of being jangly. About halfway through is the surprise - eerie strings that sound lifted from Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs swoop in from some dark, winter night, lifting the song to a completely unexpected place. From there the song deconstructs itself, building to an anticlimax with Tweedy repeating the line “don’t let your fortune fail you” as the music falls apart. Here’s to hoping Tweedy starts making music this desperate, fragile, and beautiful again when they record the next Wilco album.
MP3 :: Crack A Smile
(from Down In A Mirror. Buy here)