10 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Released alongside the electronic experiments of Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning shows off Conor Oberst’s folksy side, which had matured from fragile and volatile to surprisingly full-blooded. Occasionally joined by Emmylou Harris (whose power-in-vulnerability approach, no doubt, influenced Oberst’s own), Oberst sounds alternately personal and political, angry but openhearted. Most radiant are the ballads, especially the lovelorn “Lua” and the drunken “Land Locked Blues."

Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Released alongside the electronic experiments of Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning shows off Conor Oberst’s folksy side, which had matured from fragile and volatile to surprisingly full-blooded. Occasionally joined by Emmylou Harris (whose power-in-vulnerability approach, no doubt, influenced Oberst’s own), Oberst sounds alternately personal and political, angry but openhearted. Most radiant are the ballads, especially the lovelorn “Lua” and the drunken “Land Locked Blues."

Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.7 out of 5
603 Ratings
603 Ratings
H-Man ,

Bright Eyes: Not So Big City

Emo, Folk, Alt, Poet? All of the above and more. Reviewers scoff at the frequent comparisons to Dylan, but not in 30 years have we seen someone as natural as Conor Oberst tugging the heart-strings of his decade. I’ll go further: he’s as good as McCartney was at the lyrical turn-of-phrase when McCartney was still McCartney. If you need convincing, try his free iTunes download "When the President Talks to God", his dead-on WWJD send-up of "W." His spare style and authentic voice are a welcome contrast to the shallow, repetitive landscape of today’s Pop. Celebrate the accidental Omaha milieu that makes Bright Eyes and fellow-labelists so compelling and powerful on this and other Saddle Creek Records.

MusicTodaySucks ,

"Morning:" A Musical Awakening

After establishing himself as one of the best songwriters in contemporary music, Conor Oberst has now proved to be one of the most diverse with "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning." This album, concurrently released with the equally engaging, and intentionally overproduced, "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn," is a departure of sorts from Bright Eyes' earlier, but not any less brilliant, albums. Previous records, including "Fevers and Mirrors" and "LIFTED or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground," put on display the bands ability to produce legitimately listenable pop music with a surprisingly large array of instruments, including a harp and trumpet, all the while not sounding cluttered and overwrought. "Morning," however, showcases Oberst's talent to hold listener’s attention with less, oftentimes just himself and a guitar. The result is quite stunning. As fans have come to expect, the lyrics are superior, steeped in emotion while not abandoning the need to tell a convincing story. Oberst seems almost immune to the increasingly present trend of nonsensical verses and melodramatic choruses. The music, while raw, has a powerful simplicity. Not to say that this is essentially Oberst quietly strumming an axe. "Road to Joy," the records last track, is a frothing, scathing, commentary on the current shape of American politics, and the cacophony of dissonance isn't overdone or contrived. While not the greatest singer (He pokes fun at himself in "Road to Joy") Oberst hasn't mistaken volume for emotion, and his quavery voice is utilized well throughout the album, accented with haunting backups by Emmylou Harris, whose several appearances are an unexpected and pleasant surprise, and none are more moving than her sparse harmonies on "Landlocked Blues," a slow, waltzy strain that seems to be a glimpse into the life of a modern twenty-something, discussing issues with abandonment, love and sex, intertwined with an aura of political criticism and anti-war sentiment. However, not all of the songs are morose and condemnatory in nature. "First Day of my Life," arguably the best track on the album, is a folky, upbeat love story for the ages, following a young couple as they build a relationship after discovering their attraction to one another, without giving in to "’til death do us part" cliches. "Train Under Water" is another confident, absorbing song that captures the Manhattan mindset, with a tinge of sadness and reminiscence of 9-11. The whole record, in fact, from the understated cover art, to the lyrics themselves, seems to be a report on how we, as Americans, are doing four years after that fateful September day four years ago. The result is a sepia-toned masterpiece, combining the lyricism of Bob Dylan and the political anguish of Woody Guthrie, encapsulating the American psyche and how it has survived and matured in the eyes of a musical revolutionary who has just started to clear his throat.

love is all you need ,

Ten Songs of Absolute Perfection

To be honest, I never originally liked Bright Eyes. I'd heard a couple songs and had found Conor Oberst's voice to be too rough and hard to listen to.
Then one day I found a copy of this CD at the library and decided, what the heck I'll give it a listen.
I honestly do not know what I would have done had I never heard it.
This album has been on constant replay in my stereo ever since. It is the singularly most beautiful collection of true, raw emotion that I have ever heard. I have grown to greatly admire Conor Oberst's voice for its raw, passionate intensity, and his gripping, heartfelt lyrics speak to me in so many ways.
In "First Day of My Life", for example, you can actually FEEL Oberst's passion and desire coming through in the music, particularly in the lyric "Besides maybe this time is different...I mean I really think you'll like me".
In "At the Bottom of Everything", you are thrown into a story of a plane crash, and you feel as though you're falling alongside the characters in the song...while Oberst's voice reaches you in comforting waves of reassurance.
Every song on "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning"...from the folksy "Land Locked Blues" to the intense ballad "Road to Joy" touches me in some way. I can't reccommend this enough...especially to you Bright Eyes skeptics out there. Trust me...give this album a listen (or twenty!) and you truly won't regret it.

About Bright Eyes

Although many musicians have joined the band's rotating lineup, Bright Eyes is primarily the songwriting vehicle of Conor Oberst, a quivery-voiced Nebraska native who first attracted attention in 1994 -- when he was only 14 years old -- as the singer and guitarist for Commander Venus. Oberst proved to be a prolific musician, joining multiple bands (including Commander Venus, the Magentas, Park Ave., and Desaparecidos) while also co-founding Saddle Creek, an influential label that helped broadcast "the Omaha Sound" to a national audience. Nonetheless, he devoted most of his time to Bright Eyes, whose albums encompassed everything from folk to indie rock to electronica. Oberst eventually shifted his focus to the Mystic Valley Band in 2008, fueling rumors that he'd shelved the Bright Eyes project after ten years of activity.

Oberst had barely entered high school when he formed Commander Venus. Nonetheless, the teenager was a quick songwriter, and he soon amassed a number of songs that didn't gel with the rest of Commander Venus' catalog, 20 of which were compiled and released in 1998 as A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997, a solo record that doubled as Oberst's first release under the Bright Eyes moniker. Letting Off the Happiness followed several months later, featuring contributions from members of Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and Tilly and the Wall. The album also marked the first collaboration between Oberst and producer/instrumentalist Mike Mogis, who would play an integral role in Bright Eyes' success going forward.

As Conor Oberst graduated from teenaged life to adulthood, his productivity increased. Bright Eyes' third release, Every Day and Every Night, appeared in 1999, followed by Fevers and Mirrors in 2000 and Oh Holy Fools in 2001. The Bright Eyes sound had expanded by this point, with Oberst finding room for flute, piano, and accordion in the band's music. The frontman also found room to pursue alternate projects, and he dedicated some time to Desaparecidos before returning to the studio with Mike Mogis in 2002. Lifted or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground was released that summer and proved to be Bright Eyes' breakthrough album, with Rolling Stone deeming it one of the year's best.

Bright Eyes released several EPs in 2004 -- including Home, Vol. 4, a collaboration with Spoon's Britt Daniel -- and rang in the following year with a pair of albums released on the same day: I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (whose accompanying tour produced the Motion Sickness: Live Recordings disc) and the electronic-slanted Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, both of which cracked the Top 20 in America. Hailed by some critics as the next Dylan, Oberst supported the releases with a round of festival appearances and international shows before returning to the studio once more. Recorded in L.A., Chicago, New York, Omaha, and Portland, the follow-up effort Cassadaga was released in the spring of 2007, preceded by the Four Winds EP earlier that spring. Both releases featured full instrumentation -- including pedal steel, Dobro, xylophone, and orchestral swells -- making them some of Bright Eyes' most developed works to date.

Cassadaga debuted at number four in America and number 13 in the U.K., marking Bright Eyes' highest peak on either chart. Even so, Oberst followed such success by decamping to rural Mexico to work on his first solo effort in years. Recorded in a makeshift studio with a cast of musicians dubbed the Mystic Valley Band, Conor Oberst arrived in 2008. The project soon evolved from a solo effort into a full-band affair, and the Mystic Valley Band returned in 2009 with Outer South, an album that included songs written and sung by several of Oberst's bandmates. Bright Eyes returned in 2011 with People's Key, which was recorded in Omaha and produced by Mogis and Andy LeMaster. In 2013, A Christmas Album, which had originally been quietly issued in 2002 as a Saddle Creek online store exclusive, was finally scheduled for its first full commercial release. This unique holiday album featured a selection of Christmas standards performed in Bright Eyes' trademark bittersweet style, with help from a plethora of other Saddle Creek artists including members of Cursive, Desaparecidos, Neva Dinova, and Azure Ray. In October 2016, Bright Eyes received the box set treatment via the aptly named Studio Albums 2000-2011, which featured remastered versions of all of the group's LPs up to 2011's The People’s Key. ~ Andrew Leahey

ORIGIN
Omaha, NE
FORMED
1995

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