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Jeff Tweedy's voice


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I think I've noted before that it seems he has started slurring his words while singing.  Not AT ALL trying to imply anything about sobriety or anything, as his speaking voice is fine.  I wonder if years of straining his vocal cords have him trying to different methods.

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All of Jeff's vocals in the songs that have been released from Sukierae seem restrained and wispy. It's strange to me.

 

Is he singing differently? Has this topic been addressed recently? Is it something just for the solo album?

 

you mean like on AGIB?

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you mean like on AGIB?

 

No. There are a couple of songs on AGIB which definitely feature quiet vocals, but nothing like what we're hearing now.

 

The vocals on these new songs all have a breathiness to them. It's different from what he did on ALTWYS and Hell is Chrome (which are really the only songs on AGIB that you could draw a comparison to...maybe Muzzle of Bees too).

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I haven't listened to enough of the new material (maybe a song or two) to offer a confident or informed opinion on the way the vocals sound on the record.

 

I listened to Summerteeth the other day (after going on a Wilco break for about 2 months) and remembered how much I loved his vocals on that record. 

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I haven't listened to enough of the new material (maybe a song or two) to offer a confident or informed opinion on the way the vocals sound on the record.

 

I listened to Summerteeth the other day (after going on a Wilco break for about 2 months) and remembered how much I loved his vocals on that record. 

 

I don't mind his vocals on the new album at all, but I must admit that I do miss the raspiness he had in his voice during the Summerteeth era. I've noticed it ever since AGIB, but I thought it was just me. 

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I think maybe it's just a different approach for this record. The lead vocals on most of the Sukierae studio stuff sound like there are multiple tracks, which is a new thing. In recent live performances, though, Jeff's voice sounded as great as ever to me. (I loved the rasp of the younger Jeff, too, but that's been gone for a really long time now.)

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Most all the vocals on the studio cuts I have heard have been double tracked, which I really like. 

 

Agreed on his voice live as of late. A couple times at the Ryman I just shut my eyes and listened to him. I think more than any other Jeff's voice resonates with me on some different level. It's just good

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I think more than any other Jeff's voice resonates with me on some different level. It's just good

I wonder how that works in the brain. There must be a familiarity component, but it's bigger than that. Pretty sure we both love Rhett Miller's voice, too, and while his has a clarity that Jeff's doesn't, Jeff's voice just has something totally special. Hard to define why some people find it so disarming.

 

Part of the magic, I suppose?

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Yes Jeff did have some surgery, I believe either what's called Septoplasty or Turbinate Reduction (or possibly both).

I think it was done for the migranes he was having.

I've had it done and it's not a whole lot of fun.

Jeff does seem to sing songs in a different key during live performances over the years

Usually noticable when you listen to live recordings Wilco did in the early 2000's compared to now.

I wonder what songs like No More Poetry or More Like the Moon would sound like if he recorded them now.

Of course, I wonder what some of his old UT songs like Train or That Year would song like now.

He even admitted that those songs sounded strange to him later since he originally recorded the in such an "affected" accent.

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I think more than any other Jeff's voice resonates with me on some different level.

 

Jeff's voice just has something totally special.

 

Agreed. It mystifies me why I find his voice so compelling, but I never tire of listening to him sing. There's a warmth and intimacy, a certain soft expressiveness, and I think the nasal quality just adds to the charm. Plus I love the swagger in rockers like Monday and I'm a Wheel. It will be so good to hear him again with Wilco. I love solo Jeff and TWEEDY Jeff, but I've really been missing Wilco Jeff.

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Jeff does seem to sing songs in a different key during live performances over the years

 

Many years ago - pre-sinus surgery/AGIB - I heard Jeff comment that it was difficult for him to sing "Box Full Of Letters" in the recorded key.  Given that this was probably less than five years after he wrote and recorded it, I doubt his voice had changed dramatically.

 

I think that some of the songs are just easier for him to sing in a different key.  Sing it five hundred times live, and it's probably enough to make you consider a change.

 

His vocals definitely did change after the surgery though.  I'm not sure if it affected his range, but the tone became less nasally. 

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Agreed. It mystifies me why I find his voice so compelling, but I never tire of listening to him sing. There's a warmth and intimacy, a certain soft expressiveness, and I think the nasal quality just adds to the charm. Plus I love the swagger in rockers like Monday and I'm a Wheel. It will be so good to hear him again with Wilco. I love solo Jeff and TWEEDY Jeff, but I've really been missing Wilco Jeff.

 

Well said, Diane! It's Jeff's voice in live setting and his warmth and soulfullness that turned me from casual listener to obsessed fan.

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also is anyone just not very impressed with these new songs? Hopefully with 19 songs where will be a lot of gold in there... but these singles they're putting out I'm not really raving about :(

I felt the same way at first. These songs are starting to grow on me. I am hopeful though. Yhf and Agib were hard for me to swallow at first but they eventually became my favorites. I loved The Whole Love upon the first listen. I honestly thought it was their best album. I still think it's great but it's in the lower tier now if I were to rank the albums. I think that because these songs are a little harder to appreciate initially, it gives me hope that I will be holding this album near the YHF/AGIB tier in my opinion.

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My thought is that these songs are going to grow and so far (with maybe an exception for Diamond Light) they're better as NOT Wilco songs. The stripped down treatment and some of what Jeff was kidding about his "limited" skills on some of the arrangements give them their appeal. Maybe some of these tunes with all of the finesse the 6 members of Wilco have could have been polished into sounding a little ho hum. This could leave some creative space for Wilco to take on more of the contemplative, weird, tense, dark or explosive material they produce so well and not so much of the laid back stuff.

 

The other thing that I like about this record existing is this: think of how much speculation, anticipation, debate and for a lot of fans enjoyment comes out of little side offerings like Golden Smog, or Minus 5 where there may be a song or two that was Tweedy written and not destined for Wilco. Well here's a double album of them with allegedly, a Loose Fur record to follow.

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We're meandering off topic here, but I agree that these songs don't need to be compared to Wilco. They have a life of their own.

 

But Diamond Light taken on by the boys could really knock it out of the park, IMHO. Kind of like how Laminated Cat is played live these days -- still a fairly minimalist song, but filled with all kinds of cool subtle psychedelic sounds for atmosphere.

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We're meandering off topic here,

 

Yeah, I kind of got caught up in the Sukierae part of the conversation.  As for the voice:

 

I became a serious fan of Wilco watching the IATTBYH documentary.  One scene in particular affected me, which was towards the start they're doing vocals at the loft (I want to say it was for Poor Places) and you get up close during that part of the process.  As a huge music fan, and aspiring singer I was struck by how relaxed and effortless he sounded.  His delivery was so dang unadorned with none of the "singer voice" theatricality of so much of the music I had listened to.  It made the abstract, poetic lyrics feel honest and direct.  I saw Tweedy as a guy who could really draw you in without needing to project much.

 

I'd say those qualities are still there.  If anything the years of experience since, in addition to the surgery have just made him sound a half step closer to a "singer's singer" with tighter pitch and a little less nose in the way.  I can see for some of us that's losing a little character.  If anything the biggest difference I hear on the Tweedy material so far is slightly different approach to the production on the vocals.  A lot of the older records have mainly single tracked vocals with some tasteful, heavy compression making Jeff's voice come forward and sound really big in the mix.  The Tweedy stuff so far has been a little gentler on that "big vocal" sound, leaning more towards a lighter, natural sounding voice.  On top of that there is some of the doubling that people have noticed.  It's a pretty subtle difference (unless you're a studio rat) but the vocals tend to glide over the music as opposed to having a more dramatic spotlight kind of presence.

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