Bright Eyes - Cassadaga

Ross Drummond 09/04/2007

Rating: 5/5

Conor Oberst or Bright Eyes has been painted with brushes colored with Dylan to emo and with every record he constantly hands a canvas waiting to be painted again. His output of work has branded him a genius with its impressivenes and consistency, from the 2002 breakthrough 'Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground' to 2005 with the same day release of the acoustic filled 'I'm Wide Awake It's Morning' and the electronic driven 'Digital Ash in a Digital Urn'. Since then things have been quieter and somewhere in New York a pen and a paper has been writing more tales to treasure.

If 2005 was his time of maturing Cassadaga sees Oberst all grown up, gone is the sweeping fringe and in place is long flowing hair and flannel shirts. 'Four Winds', the first single for the record, shuns away the sparse acoustic arrangements of “I'm Wide Awake...' and is replaced with a full band with fiddle thrown in for good measure. Opener 'Clairaudients (Kill Or Be Killed)' has the long intro's that have grown to be a custom on a Bright Eyes record, a telephone conversation of a Clairvoyant with the sound of groaning strings in the background provide a climatic beginning to an album filled with a songwriter riding at his peak.

Lyrically brilliant, every song paints a picture of themes like love won and lost with Oberst proclaiming “Yeah i made love/yes I've been fucked/so what” on 'Hot Knives' with its fuzz acoustic not sounding alien on a Neutral Milk Hotel record. And Burt Bacarrach can sleep easy knowing his influence has hit the new generations with the ballad 'Make A Plan To Love Me'. Every track has a lush, full production that is enthralling, with the addition of strings adding to the emotion where Oberst's lyrics are absent.

When you struggle to find the best lyrics to quote because they are in abundance and can't quite point your finger on the hightlight because you are in love with every track it becomes apparent that Oberst's genius has no sign of waning. Cassadaga is a sure fire inclusion on every end of year best-of list and is an essential purchase for 2007, and will be for years to come. The finest slice of Americana from one of our generation's finest songwriters.