Jeff Tweedy, Glenn Kotche and Jim O'Rourke's initial 2003 collaboration as Loose Fur was mostly an idea jam. But the self-titled EP's scuffed and blurred musical snapshots still summarized the conceptual American pop that eventually defined Wilco's last two albums. This time around, everyone's more comfortable. Kotche's ensconced as Wilco's drummer, and Tweedy's no longer trying to impress experimental rock vet O'Rourke with backward guitar conscience streams. Tweedy can also relax in general, now that the tags of Postmodern American Rock Savior (or whatever) are mostly off him. And so Born Again in the USA is what you might expect a smart, studied take on '70s rock. O'Rourke's "Answers to Your Questions" ruminates on distant love over brushed folk, while "Ruling Class" has some whistling and pep to go with Tweedy's sardonic culture warfare call-outs. "Wreckroom" is lengthier, but even here there's very little conceptual heft. Guitar lilts in from some lost Firefall album over sharper angles and some unidentifiable setpiece noise, but the overall feel is still soft-flannel breezy. It could be CSNY after 30 years of reinterpretation and technology. On Born Again, Tweedy, Kotche and O'Rourke go classic casual. But they never depart from their intuitive nature.
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].