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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Bright Eyes
Label: Saddle Creek
Time: 13 Tracks 62:05
Conor Oberst is growing up. His previous efforts have had their share of world wise knowledgeable poetry set to music. However, on this most recent offering, Cassadaga we see Oberst turning to powerful self-reflection and self-examination. At 27, it seems he is starting to think heavily about where his place is in the world, and what kind of legacy he wants to leave behind. There is also the usual brilliant lyricism, and much thought provoking culture commentary we are used to from Bright Eyes, here as well.
The opening track “Clairaudience: Kill or Be Killed” begins with a bunch of what sounds like news real footage overdubbed with synthesizer underpinnings. This continues for about two minutes, until the song begins. In this song Oberst finds himself in familiar territory, political commentary:
Future Markets, Holy Wars
“If The Brakeman Turns My Way” is a song about how life is full of changes, and the cycle of life:
“All this death must need
a counterweight always someone born again
“Make a Plan To Love Me” continues in this theme, as Oberst writes hear about how short life is, and the mortality of every single person on earth.
“Soul Singer In A Session Band” features young Oberst turning introspective about himself, and the angst that he feels in his own life:
I had a lengthy discussion about The Power of Myth“Classic Cars” is a great country song that calls to mind Oberst’s finest musical moments.
“Middleman” features a fine fiddle solo that grinds out a minor key solo backed by bongo drums. It is spattered with Oberst’s trademark lyrical obscurity that has attracted fans like me over the past few years.
“No One Would Riot For Less” is by far Conor Oberst’s strongest anti-war song on this album, as it features some hard-hitting dark lyrics:
Little soldier, little insect, you know war it has no heartAs one listens to this song, with it’s haunting lyrics, it is easy to find yourself thinking of some of 1960’s folk icon Phil Och’s harsh anti-Vietnam lyrics. There is a definite parallel on a song like this that has me curious as to what Oberst is listening to these days on his iPod or whatever he uses to listen to tunes on.
“I Must Belong Somewhere” is the song that best exemplifies how Conor Oberst is growing and maturing as a songwriter. It is on this song that he describes his thoughts on finding his place in society, while mentioning other people and places that have their place in the world:
'Cause everything it must belong somewhereTaken as a whole, this is probably Conor Oberst strongest project as far as songwriting goes. He is showing signs of maturing into a songwriter that can write about the world he lives in, and at the same time writes songs that are personal in nature. My one drawback on “Cassadaga” is that there seem to be an overwhelming amount of ballads here, with too few country romps that were so prevalent on previous efforts. Other than that, if you are in the mood for some solid, thought provoking lyrics, then look no farther than “Cassadaga.”