Sound — 10
I imagine it must have been very difficult for Tweedy & co. to produce this album. When you release what is, in my opinion, the best album of '02, and arguably the best album of the decade, how can you follow up with another album? How can you do better than the best? Wilco has expanded since their last album. A Ghost Is Born is much more piano centered than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; at least 3 tracks begin with solely hammered piano chords. I never fully understood why some album reviews were so deep and philosophical, but one review I read said that whilst YHF looked outside at the world, AGIB focused inwards. That is true, in a profoundly misunderstandable way. The first track is a soft, mellow song, and about 2 minutes in the song picks up, becomes upbeat and fast, and Tweedy solos the remaining 3 and a half minutes. This was apparantly to show how suddenly Tweedy's migranes would come on. The last 12 minutes of track 11, Less Than You Think, feature a static radio hiss and what could be called a feedback symphony. Supposedly this is what Jeff Tweedy heard during his migranes. Whilst it's interesting to listen to once, the less said about it, the better. Regarding his solos, Tweedy says: "I was much more confident. To be honest, I felt a lot freer. I was actually inhibited about my playing for many years, so I think there was some effort to let it all hang out. It took me a long time to realize that it's ok that I don't sound like Jimmy Page." The solos in this album are amazing, to say the least. Very emotional and creative.
Lyrics — 10
Jeff Tweedy is an amazing songwriter. There's not much else to say. Where the lyrics seem mediocre at best on paper ("When the devil came / he was not red / he was chrome and he said / come with me"), the arrangements of the song and the music more than compensate for the lyrics; they contribute to them. Hummingbird is one of the best lyrical songs I've ever heard. "His goal in life was to be an echo Some nonsensical lyrics like those in I'm a Wheel ("Once in Germany someone said nein") only contribute to the upbeat nature of the song. Although more so in Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but also applicable to A Ghost Is Born, Jeff Tweedy's cigarette choked, raspy voice is amazing. He sings like he's dreaming in slow motion.
Overall Impression — 10
I've only had this album for less than a week, but even after hearing it 15+ times it has grown on me more and more each time. It is nearly as good as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and in my opinion surpasses A.M., Being There, and Summerteeth. The way Wilco has progressed is interesting to experience. The differences between A.M. and A Ghost Is Born are many. Tracks 1, 4, 5, 8, 10 and 12 are in my opinion the most impressive songs, yet every song contributes to the completeness of the album in its own way. This is one album I can listen to the entire way through (save the last part of track 11). I love nearly everything about this album. The one thing I hate is that I cannot experience it for the first time again. If this were stolen I would by it again, no questions asked. It's worth buying in the first place. I haven't been this excited about an album for a long time.