Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews



Author: Bryab Zupon
04/12/2007 | Duke Chronicle | | Album Review
Cassadaga, Bright Eyes' sixth full-length album, marks a new beginning for the Omaha-based band, and particularly its prolific frontman, Conor Oberst. On January 25, 2005, Bright Eyes released two radically different albums: the folk-country I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, and the darkly electronic Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.

Now, two years later, Cassadaga incorporates subtle influences from their previous work, but is also noticeably more polished in both thought and execution.

Oberst's critically-praised, but often rambling lyrics have been tightened throughout, with even the occasional six minute song-"I Must Belong Somewhere" or "Lime Tree"-remaining focused. Album producer and longtime band member Mike Mogis has softened Oberst's trademark pained warble in favor of a vocal echo effect that persists throughout the album. Instrumental production also leans toward the warm and rich, often relying on a large orchestral ensemble to support the wealth of guitars, brass, keyboard and percussion employed by Bright Eyes' main stable of musicians.

Although the album sometimes sounds overproduced, standout songs like "Four Winds" and "No One Would Riot For Less" blend the old, raw Bright Eyes with the smoother new one. And while the album itself is far from a masterpiece, its central theme is one of newfound maturity and personal growth. This seems fitting, as Cassadaga is the name of a spiritual community in Florida Oberst visited as a means to cleanse himself, following the tumultuous release of his 2005 albums. Cassadaga, then, truly represents a fresh start for artist and fans alike.


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Cassadaga (Remastered)

Cassadaga (Remastered)

LP / CD / Cassette / MP3