The People's Key
Author: Benjy Eisen
1/26/11 | Spinner.com | www.spinner.com | Record Review
When Bright Eyes announced that they were releasing a new album in 2011, one camp assumed it meant that Conor Oberst was trying to get back to a certain pre-Mystic Valley Band sound, while the other half figured he wanted to take what he learned out on his own and apply it to Bright Eyes' classic configuration of Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott. Turns out, both sides were right -- and everybody wins.As an album, 'The People's Key,' due Feb. 15, thematically dances with science fiction, time travel and -- at its heart -- humanity. And while the track 'Haile Selassie' certainly plays into that in many ways, it's also a typical Oberst take on a historical figure -- and all it seems to fall together like puzzle pieces. The right pieces.Ethiopia's Emperor from 1930 to 1974, the actual Haile Selassie was not only a defining figure in African history but he also transcended his political post to, perhaps unexpectedly, become a central religious figure in Jamaica. The Rastafari movement considers him to be the Biblical messiah, the son of God here to lead followers into a new golden age. Neither he nor Oberst can actually lay claim to doing that, but both, in their own way, have gotten us just a little bit closer. As Oberst sings on the track, "I've seen stranger things happen before."