Monday, 26 May 2014

Record Review - Conor Oberst

Published in The Big Issue, May 23-June 6.

Conor Oberst
Upside Down Mountain
Nonesuch / Warner

Since the release of his debut solo record, Water, in 1993, Conor Oberst has put out (or at least been directly involved with) some 23 records. Whether as a solo artist, with Bright Eyes, Commander Venus or Monsters Of Folk (with Jim James, Mike Mogis and M Ward), Oberst has shown he’s more than comfortable covering a wide range of styles and genres.

His newest release, Upside Down Mountain, sees him embrace a warm, Americana aesthetic, no doubt a direct result of working with producer Jonathan Wilson. Shimmering guitars, his rough-hewn yet oddly soft vocal, backing from Swedish duo First Aid Kit, all coming together as a rich, thick whole, evoking images of dark Nashville bars, or old mansions in Laurel Canyon.

It’s not a confined record though. A guitar freakout in ‘Zigzagging Toward The Light’; the crunchy pop of ‘Kick’; the folky, melancholy  ‘Artifact 1’, all add something extra to a record which ultimately revolves around Oberst’s poetic lyricising. All in all, it comes together well, highlighting once more, his able grasp of all things musical.

Samuel J. Fell

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