I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
That said, his softer side is what made him a star and most of the songs on here are keepers. From the spoken-word intro (something he's been repeating since "Fever/Mirrors") pretty much through until the penultimate tune "Poison Oak," this record spotlights Oberst's vocals and holds off on the massive orchestration, which saturated his last effort, until a point absolutely has to be punctuated. Other than that, this is a record consisting of Oberst, a guitar, some subtle slide steel, tender drumming, and a dab of female background vocals for harmony.
"So don't stay mad/ just let some time pass/ and in the morning you will wake feeling new," Oberst sings in all his emo glory on "Train Under Water," the longest song on the record, and possibly one of the most passionate, touching on his new home (New York) and a tiny bit of hope in the world.
The best track on the record, oddly enough is the one that sounds the most like something off Oberst's last record. "Road to Joy is a bombastic rallying call to anyone who's sick of war and the turmoil around the world. The music roars to life with bells, horns and tons of distortion. "So when your asked to fight a war that's over nothing/It's best to join the side that's gonna win/No one said how all of this got started/But we're gonna make 'em goddam certain how it's gonna end," Oberst sings bathed in irony, sarcasm and a bit of truth.
The beautiful chaos on that last track flows right into the techno chaos of the companion record to "Wide Awake," "Digital Ash." Did Oberst really need to make two records at this point in his career? Probably not, but they are both awesome, and that's pretty much all that matters.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3