Apr 28, 2007

Bright Eyes

Conor Oberst is now 27. After a succession of brilliant recordings he now brings us "Cassadaga". Gone is the boyish, fiery angst and in its place is a new found maturity. Does it make for a truly great record, probably not. Does it make for a satisfying listen that will grow with time, I believe it does. Bright Eyes is now Conor, long time producer Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott, who is responsible for the string arrangements. However once again we see a multitude of collaborators including talents such as Gillian Welch, M. Ward, David Rawlings, John McEntire, Janet Weiss and Maria Taylor. I came to the music of Bright Eyes before I knew anything about his image as a boy genius who some people liked to label whiny or emo. I was just stunned by the raw passion and songwriting talent on display on "Lifted..." and when I bought "Fevers and Mirrors" I was converted to the talent of the Omaha, Nebraska songwriter.

"Cassadaga" opens quietly with the gentle "Clairaudients" before giving way to the stand out track "Four Winds" a rousing, swinging, joyous tune that is hard to resist. Its a lyrically complex song that seems to me to be about a call to the end of a multitude of religions and a fresh start for all. Well that's what I got out of it, plus the strings are sensational. Other stand out songs include "Hot Knives", a beautiful, pulsating song with great back up vocals from Rachel Yamagata. In the words of Conor from NME, "Hot Knives is a song.. uhm, sort of about a woman that kind of discovers that her life is a sham and can't really exist in her reality any longer and has to transform completely into a new, uh, species. It sounds crazy, but it's not that crazy. It could happen to you, too", "Classic Cars", which has a real country feel and features the wonderful Gillian Welch. I love the closing line "And never trust a heart that is so bent it can’t break". Also to savour are "No One Would Riot For Less", a song about love in a world gone mad which builds slowly and has an ethereal feel and "I Must Belong Somewhere", an epic song with wonderful imagery and a cry out for finding your place in the world.

If you are a Bright Eyes fan I believe you won't be disappointed by "Cassadaga". Whilst it contains a couple of lesser tracks, the highlight songs show Conor hasn't lost his ability to write beautiful melodies and vivid lyrics. It is a beautiful sounding recording that displays a maturity leaving behind some of his more fiery earlier work. It is an assured and accomplished recording.
The "Four Winds EP" is worth getting as well. It contains 5 new songs not included on "Cassadaga" which I believe are every bit as good as some of the "Cassadaga" tunes. Especially "Smoke Without Fire" (featuring M. Ward) and "Tourist Trap", a song as fine as any tune Mr Oberst has written.

MP3: Four Winds
MP3: No One Would Riot For Less
MP3: Tourist Trap

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