What does it sound like?:
Towards the tail end of last year Conor Oberst released his cathartic solo album Ruminations. It was brilliant but stark – his voice and incisive lyrics accompanied only by guitar and harmonica. It was released too late to appear in my year end best of or at least I only heard it after I had already announced the list. It would most definitely have appeared. At the time it was announced that there would be a band version of these songs released in the new year. Salutations is it – all songs fleshed out by the excellent Felice Brothers and Jim Keltner. For me the Felices and Oberst are a match made in heaven – both have a Maverick attitude with an apparent raggedness that I find enticing. This album replaces the harshness of Ruminations with an exuberance in places despite the lyrical content. Reference points would be the second Felices album (the one with the black cover that everyone thinks is their debut) and Conor’s hitherto best album the Bright Eyes Wake up,I’m wide awake it’s morning.The playing is great throughout and the highlights remain the highlights of Ruminations i.e.. Next of Kin , You all loved him once and It’s a little Uncanny. Make no mistake Conor Oberst is back to his lyrical best with these songs – witness the line from Next of Kin ‘I spread my anger like agent Orange, I was indiscriminate’. It may be sacrilegious but I really think he could take over the role of America’s greatest lyricist when Bob shuffles off to that Great American songbook in the sky. Adding to the Ruminations set is a further 7 new songs the pick of which is the enigmatic and film noire-esque Empty Hotel by the Sea where the writer seeks to meet his on the run brother and tell him a few home truths.
This one came early enough in the year to appear on my end of year lists and it would have to take some stupendous releases for it to avoid being there. It really is a fine album and after a period where his prodigious talent appeared to waning it is good to have Mr Oberst back.
What does it all *mean*?
Yet again the best albums are coming from the other side of the pond.
Goes well with…
Contemplation asw there are a lot of words. You can dance to it too if that’s what takes your fancy.
Might suit people who like…
Peter Case, Felice Brothers, Simon Felice, Green on Red.