This is the only CD I own from US wunderkind wordsmith Conor Oberst. In many ways, he’s a shares a lot with Will Oldham, burdened as he is with a warbly voice and a penchant for multiple band names. He is much more palatable however, with less idiosyncrasies in delivery plus Teenbeat good looks (so you’re much more likely to see him on tele and splashed across the magazine pages). Hence his much great success.
His fanbase is a refreshing outcome, as his work is not overly immediate. This album, for example, is a ‘grower’, filled with little tales that benefit from multiple listens. Oberst sings in such a fashion that you want to understand him and share his experience. There is biting satire and pithy commentary in amongst it all.
The underlying orchestration feels eerily familiar. He’s treading very similar ground to other ‘sway and swoon’ type efforts from Neko Case and Martha Wainwright. It is a damn effective genre, as long as you’re willing to listen hard.
Intriguingly, this album came out at the same time as an ‘electronic’ album by the same crew. I’ll have to chase it up to hear the contrast.
File under: Subtle but effective