Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews



Author: Giselle Zado Wasfie
02/15/2007 | | | Album Review
Say what you will about Conor Oberst, but the singer stands out as an authentic guy. Among the fame-hungry whores of Hollywood or the beyond-coolness of New York hipsters, Oberst is living life out in the wide plains of Omaha, Nebraska—not to make a point, just because that's where he's from—maybe to leverage a more normal existence. He never packed up his bags to permanent digs on either coast and that must be at least partially why his music comes across so very real—true to the day-to-day drama of regular life and universal in its resonance with the larger, unpredictable human experience.

His new album, Cassadaga, available April 10th on Saddle Creek records is at once aimless and destined. An album sneak peek after the jump…

The first song "Clairaudients (Kill of Be Killed)" starts out hauntingly cinematheque, soon going-sideways. A psychic's voice emotes methodically, predicting while the string section of an orchestra tunes its harmonies. It's an end of the world build up that sudden pulls back into an acoustic moment as Oberst's warbling, unsteady, exacting voice sings "Corporate whore/Colonial/The movement is unstoppable." The metaphysical, mystical quality of this beginning characterizes the whole album—at once apocalyptical and born again.

The title of the album refers to a town in Florida which Oberst visited and which has over 100 psychics living there. The aura that this visit cast is beyond clear, even if the future is not. On "If the Brakeman Turns My Way," Oberst sings about friends "who mean well but make it worse." The psychedelia soon has the singer searching to "find somewhere to level out" and admitting that he tried "to pass for nothing/but my dreams gave me away."

There are many other notable, mythical, moments on the album as well as pleasurable, more classic Bright Eyes ones for you die-hards out there. The culmination of which is the last song (lucky #13) "Lime Tree" a quiet, echoing number full of fragments, questions and longings that are maybe unanswerable, certainly existential and ultimately, rife with life's mysteries and paradoxes. Or, as Oberst muses: "lost and found with every step I took."

Here's the full track-listening:

1) Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)
2) Four Winds
3) If The Brakeman Turns My Way
4) Hot Knives
5) Make A Plan To Love Me
6) Soul Singer In A Session Band
7) Classic Cars
8) Middleman
9) Cleanse Song
10) No One Would Riot For Less
11) Coat Check Dream Song
12) I Must Belong Somewhere
13) Lime Tree


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