Reviews

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Author: Kevin O'Hare
02/04/2005 | Newhouse News Service | Album Review
It's been a while since anyone's been saddled with the dreaded "New Dylan" tag line, but Conor Oberst has just stumbled into that treacherous terrain.
He didn't ask for it, and he even stuck with his own small indie label, but the hype machine's been working overtime anyway in crowning the 24-year-old songwriter behind the Nebraska-based Bright Eyes as pop's new savior.
That's ridiculous, but there's still a lot to like about "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning," a smart, sensible set of acoustic-based wonder overflowing with wit, wisdom and some potent political punch.
Oberst is one of the better lyric writers to emerge in a long while. That's evident when he introduces the first track, "At the Bottom of Everything," by setting it up as a song about a plane crash. It's far more than that, as reflected by lines like "While my mother waters plants my father loads his gun/He says death will give us back to God, just like the setting sun is returned to the lonesome ocean."
Some of the more stripped-down fare is too dry musically, though Bright Eyes gets some welcome help from the great Emmylou Harris on several tracks. And when the band opens up, as in the rave-up "Another Travelin' Song" or the stinging, screaming anti-war saga "Road to Joy," it's tempting to believe that the hype machine is onto something.


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