Reviews

Cassadaga

Author: Jonathan Takiff
04/10/2007 | Philadelphia Daily News | www.philly.com | Album Review
At first glance, the cover of the new Bright Eyes album, "Cassadaga" (Saddle Creek, A), is a bland series of thin black lines on a white backdrop. But inside the package you find a grooved plastic lens, dubbed a "Spectral Decoder," which, when placed over the cover, reveals hidden images and messages.

The music created by Bright Eyes' alter-ego Conor Oberst is like that, too. The imagery is so tightly packed and impressionistic that it takes studying the lyrics to discern the big picture. And while the core of Oberst's art remains guitar-strummed folk-rock with hints of country twang, these songs are richly embellished (and maybe slightly obscured) with strings and woodwinds and a quartet of backing singers. This is the biggest and most grown-up sounding album released by this prolific 27-year-old artist.

"Cassadaga" refers to a Florida town known for its psychic gleaners, and the disc opens with a woman's murmuring voice suggesting that the listener set out on a journey of spiritual hot spots across America.

For Oberst that means a journey into his soul and this screwed-up land of ours, challenging - in his angry, poetically sloganeering ways - big stuff such as war and religion, screwed-up relationships and the ultimate meaning of life and death.
Cassadaga

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