“I saw your face age backwards changing shape
in my memory. You taught me that victory is
sweet even deep in the cheap seats.”
Such lyrical pungency and mundane worldly philosophising that is espoused in opener ‘Cape Canaveral’, helps Omaha’s Conor Oberst accentuate his aching longing and calming dirty folk stained delivery that has made Bright Eyes, one of the freshest acts of this millennium.
The natural question that you find yourself wanting to answer upon listening to this return to soloing is given that Oberst creatively steers the expressive folk/pop winding indie outfit of Bright Eyes, is a solo album going to differ at all from the material that he’s been consistently delighting with in his day job?
Well, early on, the signs are there that this offering is more introspective and personalised. There is an oxymoron extravaganza and the coup de grace being a relaxing, but worried vocal gait that Oberst nails with aplomb.
From the spindling Americana saunter of ‘Sausalito’, through the lonely lament ‘Get-Well-Cards’, the emotive, lulling thrust of ‘Danny Callaghan’ to the Jerry Lee Lewis energetic pop out of ‘I Don’t Wanna Die (In The Hospital)’ and the hanging rustic melody of ‘Moab’. Oberst gives a performance of controlled passion, yearning melancholy and a trickle of world friendliness seeps throughout.
Eccentric, hollow horns and weeping guitars make the mystical ‘Valle Mfstic (Ruben’s Gold)’, compelling and it is a celebration of eccentricity and heart. The two combine well together, but there is something about Oberst that gives you the impression he could mix mud and rusty metal and, yet come up with gold.