Reviews

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Author: David Sprague
01/25/2005 | Barnesandnoble.com | www.barnesandnoble.com | Album Review
Not many songwriters can channel the spirit of Gram Parsons one moment and borrow a few tricks from Ludwig van Beethoven the next, but few have the sort of nerve that seems to come so naturally to Bright Eyes ringmaster Conor Oberst. He's called in a wide array of collaborators this time around, including My Morning Jacket singer Jim James -- whose reedy tenor provides an eerie counterpoint to the sepulchral "At the Bottom of Everything." More intriguing are Oberst's duets with Emmylou Harris -- three of 'em in all -- that range from blatantly Dylan-esque (the rambling "Landlocked Blues") to stridently anti-folk (the acerbic "Wide Awake"). Even with all the help, however, Oberst manages to maintain full control of the proceedings -- in part because he's become increasingly accomplished as a singer and in part because he's toned down his verbosity enough to allow his words to actually sink in. That's particularly true on the disc's polar opposite highlights: "Lua," a sparse, chilly ballad on which Oberst deals with a destructive, drug-addled romance, and "First Day of My Life," a surprisingly raw-boned workingman's lament. True to its title, this disc is as eye-opening as a sonic journey gets


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