Bright Eyes - Four Winds EP

Bill Cummings 02/04/2007

Rating: 4/5

After releasing the impressive salvo of two brilliantly juxtaposed album's I'm Wide Awake Its Morning" and "Digital Ash In A Digital Urn" in 2005 you may have wondered what American singer-song writer Conor Oberst's (Aka Bright Eyes) next move would be? Well you won't be disappointed by his answer: new single “Four Winds” is a vital slice of apocalyptic folk that squeeze every ounce of life from its quasi-religious and autobiographical themes. A rampant fiddle kicks in the stable door, hoofs gallop out a country rhythm, then a rush of strumming appears beyond the horizon along with Conor: delivering a breathless zeitgeist pinning stream of consciousness. Rumours of Oberst's addictions, breakdown's and visits to rehab have abounded in the last few years, and if the twelve steps are about finding a higher force, then maybe "Four Winds" is Conor questioning new found spirituality? Indeed the title of his new album "Cassadaga” is after all a reference to a spiritualist community in Central Florida.

On the face of it this single is a tale about a girl facing the end of the world, but listen a little harder and on repeated listens new dimensions emerge. He hints at a new era of enlightenment where means of dealing with the end of the world, such as religion and educational institutions and will be useless. ("The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qu'ran's mute/If you burn them all together you get close to the truth still/They are pouring over sanskrit on the ivy league moons While shadows lengthen in the sun")

Then there's the illusion towards a W.B Yeats Poem, the religious conflict playing out in the Middle East, and Oberst's own trials ("I went back to my rented Cadillac and company jet Like a newly orphaned refugee, retracing my steps”) but unquestionable the finest moment comes in the heart beating chorus, as the rhythm back from the precipice and feels rather insignificant given the vastness of a universe without any heaven or hell. ("But When Great Satan's Gone, The Whore Of Babylon/She Just Can't remain with all that outer space/She Breaks, she breaks, she caves.") Gone is the personal introspection of his early albums (Letting off Happiness, Fevers and Mirrors, Lifted ect) and in its place is a big picture vision that shows just how Oberst is maturing nicely as an artist with things to say about the direction that the world is taking, Four Winds is an barnyard anthem of biblical proportions. Lets hope his new album delivers more musical psalms of this quality!