Reviews

Four Winds

Author: Wayne Utterback
03/07/2007 | SIU Daily Egyptian | www.siude.com | Album Review
Bright Eyes' mastermind Conor Oberst loves his fans.

While preparing to release "Cassadaga" on April 10, he has released an EP with the single "Four Winds" along with five strong B-sides. It's a treat to tide over any Bright Eyes' fan and builds anticipation for the upcoming album.

The title track begins with a flurry of fiddle playing that reveals Oberst is sticking to the country-laden sounds of "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning." The songwriting is top notch as his lyrics speak of religion and death.

The moment "Smoke Without Fire" starts, it is obvious that songwriter M. Ward had significant influence on how the song comes out. It starts out as a lonesome acoustic tune that slowly invites trumpets in to echo off the walls. Its melancholy and Ward's voice is amazing as usual. He nearly steals the song from Oberst, simply because his voice fits better.

"Reinvent the Wheel" is a piano-driven tune with harmonicas and violins bent on sounding like a pop song. "Stray Dog Freedom" is the only song that does not fit into the equation on this EP. Oberst sounds best in an electronic or acoustic environment, and the constant electric guitar playing in "Stray Dog Freedom" gets far too overbearing.

Oberst's bleating vocals work better with "Cartoon Blues." Pristine acoustic guitars and banjos pluck as a rollicking drum stomps along before breaking into an electric guitar that simply rocks. It's a well-crafted song and fits the familiar mold that Bright Eyes stems itself in.

The gentle closer "Tourist Trap" is a soft sigh where Oberst reflects on his own life. He sings about not having a place to call home. Harmonicas return and play mournfully as the song unwinds as whistling brings this record to a close.

If these songs were selected as the b-sides of the new Bright Eyes album, the songs that made it on the album must be spectacular. Even so, "Four Winds" is a great teaser for "Cassadaga."
Four Winds

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