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Bright Eyes:: Cassadaga (Album Review)

Conor Oberst’s simultaneously released 2005 albums – the acoustic I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and the electronic Digital Ash in a Digital Urn – suggested a career at a crossroads. However, the seventh Bright Eyes album demands the biggest stage. Named after a Florida psychic community, Cassadaga is quietly shadowed by religious matters and could be taken as a subtle assault on America’s religious right. However, the apocalyptic Four Winds rages with blistering imagery at wars being fought in the name of any belief system – “Bodies decomposing in containers” and a girl “standing in the ashes at the end of the world”. Oberst’s frequent comparisons to Bob Dylan won’t suffer, but he has also conjured up some of his best tunes, especially Hot Knives and If the Brakeman Turns My Way, with themes of alienation and self-medication. Musically, his palette blends Dylan, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello, but when Oberst fuses flutes and choirs for Make a Plan to Love Me – a simple, sweet love song – there seems no end to what the 27-year-old can do.
(Dave Simpson-UK)