Oh Holy Fools
Author: Cyndi Elliott
"They will detail their pain in a standard refrain/They will recite their sadness, like it's some sort of contest/If it is, I think I am winning it," Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst sings on this album shared with erstwhile collaborator Joe Knapp (Son, Ambulance). Both artists make mood music for trying times, mixing polished songwriting with stark innocence and melodies that don't easily escape, but there's a difference in the degree to which they sound like they're trying. Knapp plays guitar, piano and sings over unobtrusive drums and bass. While "On The Concourse" is grating and too high for his register, he seems much more comfortable on "Katie Come True," a piano-laden ode to a woman who doesn't exist at all. On alternating tracks, the relatively seasoned and prolific Oberst hosts a full house with exquisite arrangements (flute, vibraphone and mandolin), and the four Bright Eyes tracks are as compelling as anything on last year's acclaimed Fevers And Mirrors. Oberst again wields his signature vibrato - the near-constant quivering in his voice betraying the feeling he's about to lose it - and you believe it. Oh Holy Fools is a mixed blessing: Though Knapp demonstrates mostly affect, Oberst nearly pummels with his unmistakable effect.