Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
Author: Joel Selvin
01/23/2005 | San Francisco Chronicle | Album Review
At age 24, Conor Oberst probably no longer qualifies as the boy wonder of alt-rock he was at 14. But there is still a "Genius at Work" aura around his latest releases, a pair of albums bursting with richly detailed, mature songs. Surrounded by a loose group of musicians he calls Bright Eyes, Oberst is alternately extravagantly verbal on social or political issues and supremely downbeat about personal matters. "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" is largely an acoustic affair and features guest appearances by Emmylou Harris for some old-school credibility. "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn" is more conventional rock, scrupulously produced with highly processed sound, both sampled and actually played. More than just another mouthy smart-aleck rock singer, Oberst still can't escape sounding like the slightly obnoxious smartest boy in class.