Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


Four Winds

Author: Justin Drabek
03/11/2007 | Northwestern Michigan College White Pine Press | | Album Review
After topping the singles charts in 2005, releasing two separate albums, and going on two separate tours in support, Conor Oberst has bolstered his lineup for the Bright Eyes' latest release, "Four Winds."

In recruiting producer and long-time touring band member Mike Mogis and new trumpet player Nate Walcott, "Four Winds" marks the first of two releases for 2007, and does much more then just wet your appetite for the next full length album out April 10 (titled "Cassadaga"). Standing on its own as a piece of art, it fits well in the brilliant catalogue that Bright Eyes has compiled over the past seven years.

Hearing the opening guitar, drums and violin, you could think that you are listening to a new Neil Young record. However after first six measures, a warbled voice comes in that can not be mistaken for anyone but Oberst as he sings "She's standing in the ashes at the end of the world/four winds blowing through her hair." Then, as the music cascades towards closure, the lyrics just keep getting better. Never one with little to say, it's clear Oberst still has a command of the English language and the proper rhetoric to present it.

"If all your life/you've done what is right/don't say you felt obliged," delivered in the middle of the album, during the song "Smoke without Water." Co-written and performed by Matt Ward, it's an acoustic gem with a soothing trumpet line that flows gently in and out of the song.
It's hard to imagine that the stand out track "Reinvent the Wheel" was written for anybody but Oberst's deceased contemporary Elliot Smith, with lyrics like, "there were many talents that you possessed/that I wish myself to have/but the way your eyes glossed over/well I never envied that/and I'll doubt you'll come back now from wherever it is you are/because you never understood what we loved you for."

Despite having only six songs, each is written with the same deft and poetic magic that has gained national attention and sold more records than many major label artists--all the while staying on Saddle Creek, the local Omaha, Nebraska, record label that they've been on since the start.

The music gives you a feeling of walking down a dusty road on the outskirts of some small town. That's where one might expect sounds like this to come from, and in truth it does. Bright Eyes is rooted in the ways that have built the middle class: hard work, determination and selflessness. It would have been easy two years ago, to leave Omaha, and join the world of major label money and fame, however every word and note of these songs reminds you, that these are not being written for that, but for love of music. If it garners the same attention that major label bands are getting, there is one simple reason for this: the music deserves it.
Four Winds

Four Winds

LP / CD / MP3


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Cassadaga (Remastered)

Cassadaga (Remastered)

LP / CD / Cassette / MP3