Bassist John Stirratt has long been at the core of the Wilco sound, as the only other original member left in the group besides Jeff Tweedy. His rock-steady playing is the glue that has helped hold Wilco’s ever-evolving sound together through the many personnel changes.
Multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone was one of those many changes in the band, and he, too, established a quiet intensity within Wilco that is at the essential to what they do. Given the supernatural songwriting abilities of Tweedy, and the otherworldly guitar playing of Nels Cline, Stirratt and Sansone’s irreplaceable contributions to the Wilco sound are sometimes lost, which makes the Autumn Defense all that much more special.
Formed by Stirratt and Sansone, before Sansone joined Wilco, Autumn Defense have, over the course of the last decade, been creating sweetly hushed, ‘60s-inspired pop-melodies that lilt and float along with the lazy abandon of a fine summer day.
Their latest, Once Around, is their most complete and best effort to date. Freed from the constraints of their day jobs with Wilco, Once Around is the sound of two accomplished musicians with no worries, no concerns, and creating exactly the music they want. There is a definite hint of Wilco’s trademark exploratory alt-county that creeps through at times, but is to be expected and is not unwelcomed.
The duo’s light, airy touch becomes a bit repetitive at times, blurring from one track to the next, but even so, each tune dances with gorgeous, intertwined harmonies and a fresh, relaxed touch that forms a lush landscape for Stirratt and Sansone’s musical wishes to live. This is reason enough to pay attention.
Once Around is out now on Yep Roc Records.