Reviews

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Author: Robert Hilburn
01/01/2005 | Los Angeles Times | www.latimes.com | Album Review
Even in the iPOd era, a car radio remains the best testing grounds for pop
music. Whether you're on the open road or stuck in traffic, there's a joy in
hearing a song so exhilarating that you want to reach over to turn up the
volume.

Several selections in our annual New Year's Day salute to the most
compelling singles of the last 12 months fall into this category - including
tunes by Kanye West, U2 and the teams of Loretta Lynn/Jack White and Ray
Charles/Norah Jones.

But one record - a ballad by Bright Eyes singer-songwriter Conor Oberst -
tops the list because it makes you want to do more than just turn up the
volume. "Lua" is such an intimate and absorbing recording that you want to
pull the car to the side of the road to concentrate on every nuance and
word.

Writing with an insight and detail reminiscent of Bob Dylan's early love
songs, Oberst, backed only by his acoustic guitar, reflects on a tempting
but ultimately unhealthy relationship with a girl who is battling some
familiar demons.

You're looking skinny like a model with your eyes all painted black.
you just keep going to the bathroom, always saying you'll be right back.
well, it takes one to know one, kid, I think you got it bad.

Later in the song, Oberst, acknowledging his own dangerous habits, adds:

And I'm not so sure what the trouble was that started all of this
The reasons have all run away, but the feeling never did.
It's not something I would recommend, but it is one way to live.
What is so simple in the moonlight, by the morning never is.

1. Bright Eyes "Lua" (Saddle Creek) It takes a remarkable record to top
"Jesus Walks", but Bright Eyes (which is basically Oberst and whatever
musicians he's working with when making a record) did it.

Available now as a single, "Lua" will be included in Bright Eyes' acoustic
album, "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" which is due Jan 23. Like many of the
songs on the album, it is a statement of youth awakening. Oberst, 24, is
really talking about his own search for comfort and truth in a complex,
contradictory world.


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