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I'm Wide Awake It's Morning

Bright Eyes

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iTunes Review

Bright Eyes is essentially Conor Oberst, a young critically acclaimed songwriter from Nebraska who began releasing music at the age of 14 and issued two albums simultaneously in 2005. Wide Awake is the acoustic-based collection that best reflects his strengths as a singer and writer.  (The other release Digital Ash in a Digital Urn trends towards British goth-rock and electronica.) Fans admire Oberst's frail, intimate voice, which is reminiscent of a younger, less secure Paul Westerberg. His confessional lyrics can sometimes give the listener the uneasy feeling that they're eavesdropping more than listening to a finished album. Guest vocalist Emmylou Harris joins Oberst for several tracks here, the most effective being the politically charged "Landlocked Blues." Though it's Oberst's habit to surround himself with friends (his guest musician list is voluminous), he's best keeping it simple, as the touching ballad "The First Day of My Life" clearly illustrates.

Customer Reviews

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.

"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.

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.

Biography

Formed: February 15, 1980 in Omaha, NE

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although many musicians joined the band's rotating lineup, Bright Eyes was 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...
Full Bio

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