Conor Oberst Conor Oberst(Merge Records) Buy it from Insound
Conor Oberst has been making music for longer than some Bright Eyes fans have been alive. In 1993, his debut release (on cassette, even) was released by Saddle Creek predecessor Lumberjack Records.
In some ways, this self-titled release isn't too much different than that first release, acoustic guitars leading the way. In most ways, it's quite different. Saying Oberst's music at 28 is more refined than it was at 13 hardly does either justice. Of course, looking back at the propped-up indie musician at 13, one could potentially say they could see glimpses of Oberst's talent, but even his earliest fans would have been making a bold call in predicting that he'd become the reasonably popular singer-songwriter he is today.
Oberst has more recently found a nice niche of alt-country to fit his music into, and this self-titled album -- released on Merge Records rather than the label he helped to found -- is a nice example of the style he's been honing since releasing 2002's Lifted.
Ranging from the energetic (I Don't Want to Die (in a hospital) and NYC-Gone, Gone) to the forlorn (Milk Thistle and Lenders in the Temple,) Conor Oberst's latest project has demonstrated his unmistakable ability to maintain continuity across an album while managing to quell any potential boredom before it begins to detract from the listening experience.
While Oberst might not be in possession of a writing style ranking among the most complex or awe-inspiring of all time, he's more than proficient at what he does best: writing solid, listenable songs that inevitably tell a story.
For that, Oberst ought to be commended. After all, the man's self-titled release is an album that will find itself at home in the ears of fans of recent Bright Eyes material, but it still has enough potential to attract new listeners.