Reviews

Lifted or The Story is in the Soil....

Author: J.E.K.
02/18/2004 | Philadelphia Weekly
Mon., Feb. 23, 7pm. Sold out. Trocadero, 1003 Arch St. 215.922.LIVE.
That this show has sold out--a show made up of little more than guys with acoustic guitars--speaks long and loud about the growing infatuation with plainspoken confessionals. What's curious is that the most commercially successful act on the bill is, in many ways, the least compelling. Conor Oberst has been fronting Bright Eyes for nine years now, and while his pent-up anguish initially seemed a formidable weapon, the improvements he's made on his songwriting have been mostly cosmetic. Whatever interesting ideas Oberst comes up with are bludgeoned by the fact that subtlety seems to him a foreign commodity. Many of his songs default to little more than ornate fist-shaking, and he has yet to master the command of nuance or restraint necessary to turn his anger into a lightning rod. Consequently, most of his frustration just sounds like blame-casting. A truer troubadour is M. Ward, who turned in one of last year's finest albums with Transfiguration of Vincent. Ward tempers sorrow with sweetness, and his songs deliver more raw power with a whispered syllable than many of his contemporaries do with a billion shouted sentences.


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