Nonesuch - 2004 - 67 minutes

It's a sad fact that Wilco may never again hit the giddy heights of 1999's 'Summerteeth' but, while 'A Ghost is Born' does not initially have anything as ear-catching as 'Heavy Metal Drummer', 'Shot in the Arm' or 'Misunderstood', there are several songs that are very definite growers. 'Hummingbird', 'Theologians' and 'Handshake Drugs' stand out from the pack while 'At Least That's What You Said' has one of the more heartbreaking opening lines heard in recent times.

With Jim O'Rourke back in the producer's seat, 'A Ghost is Born' has more of the fuzzy, dirty in-between-song sounds that characterised 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'. While that album hearkened back to the shortwave radio era, this time such sonic adventurism makes less sense, particularly on penultimate track 'Less Than You Think' which tags an 11-minute headache-inducing drone onto a three-minute song.

From his early days with No Depression legends Uncle Tupelo, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has proven his prowess as a songwriter. It's a pity that his memorable way with a lyric is all but lost amidst extended guitar solos, particularly on the first half of the album. As Wilco move further and further from their alternative country roots, the glimmers of greatness in 'A Ghost is Born' will enable the converted to keep faith - at least until the next release.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: At Least That's What You Said - Hell Is Chrome - Spiders (Kidsmoke) - Muzzle of Bees - Hummingbird - Handshake Drugs - Wishful Thinking - Company in My Back - I'm a Wheel - Theologians - Less Than You Think - Late Greats