Reviews

Cassadaga

Author: Paul Shugrue
04/17/2007 | Portfolioweekly.com | www.portfolioweekly.com | Album Review
Like the small town of psychics that Cassadaga takes its name from, Bright Eyes' new CD exists outside the mainstream. Full of lilting Americana twang dressed up in complex string arrangements with Conor Oberst's shaky voice leading the way, it's not an album that will be embraced for its hit singles. But for those with more adventurous taste it will keep the band on par with other musical renegades like Ryan Adams, The Decemberists and Death Cab for Cutie.

Following very quickly on the heels of a rarities CD (Noise Floor) and not one, but two full length CDs released on the same day in 2005 (I'm Wide Awake it's Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn), Bright Eyes is treading very close to the overexposure syndrome that Adams is currently going through. But Cassadaga comes off as a natural progression for the band with a fuller sound that takes advantage of the multi-instrumentalists Oberst has overshadowed in the past. Songs like "Four Winds," "Middleman" and "If the Brakeman Turns My Way" are simple enough melodies that benefit from having a lot more going on than just acoustic guitars. They experiment with vocal arrangements on "Make a Plan to Plan to Love Me" which features Motown-ish background vocals by Gillian Welch, Rachael Yamagata and M. Ward.

Oberst's lyrics provide a travelogue of scenarios from the title town to middle-American truck stops and "the new pyramids down in old Manhattan," all the time searching, because "I Must Belong Somewhere." As on most spiritual journeys however, finding it is not as important as the journey itself. It doesn't take a town of clairvoyants and mystics to predict that.

Cassadaga

Cassadaga

LP / CD / MP3