Album of the Week: Conor Oberst, 'Salutations'

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Conor Oberst, 'Salutations'
Conor Oberst, 'Salutations' (Nonesuch Records)
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Bill DeVille - Album of the Week: Conor Oberst, 'Salutations'
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Conor Oberst is back with a new album called Salutations. Seems like it was only a few months since last year's Ruminations. Salutations is the idea Oberst originally had for his Ruminations album, but after label honchos heard the demos and loved them, they suggested putting them out as is. Confusing? Maybe a little!

Maybe the easiest description is that Conor Oberst has returned to his original game plan. His eighth solo studio album is kind of a companion piece to last year's effort. On this one, Oberst is fully plugged in, with fleshed-out arrangements. All 10 of the tracks from Ruminations — along with seven newbies — appear on the new effort, which clocks in at 67 minutes. A big bang for your buck nowadays!

The album was recorded with a full band, which included Oberst's friends and tourmates The Felice Brothers and legendary drummer Jim Keltner, plus special guests like Gillian Welch, and Oberst's Monsters of Folk pals Jim James and M. Ward.

Recording with friends was a winner of an idea for Oberst, giving the album a loose and fun feel. It kind of makes me think of what it might have been like when Bob Dylan and The Band were making music in the house known as "Big Pink."

You can hear that Dylan and the Band influence on Salutations' lead track, "Too Late to Fixate," which features Oberst's quavering vocal on this piano-and-accordion-driven tune. You also hear it on the lovely, "You All Loved Him Once." And that Dylan influence is all over Oberst's "Napalm," which sounds like it could be a track from Highway 61 Revisited.

Lyrically, Oberst is at the top of his game on Salutations. Many of the songs have a stream-of-consciousness feel to them, and Oberst can deliver some great lines like "We're all so tired of this dance craze / we never learned so we just swayed," on the bluesy tune "Overdue." I think my favorite line is, "I spread my love like agent orange," on the track "Next of Kin," which also features Oberst's nifty harmonica playing.

Salutations sounds like the fully realized version of its predecessor and a worthy addition to the Conor Oberst catalogue. I imagine we won't have to wait long for his next batch of songs. I can't wait to hear what he does next!

Resources


Conor Oberst - official site

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  • Conor Oberst announces a new album - yes, another one That didn't take long. Five months after 'Ruminations,' the Bright Eyes singer will return with a companion piece called 'Salutations': a full-band version of the album, plus seven extra songs.
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  • Conor Oberst performs in The Current studio To get you in the mood for what will surely be a special evening, Conor Oberst stopped by The Current studios on the afternoon before his Fitzgerald Theater performance squeeze in a few bonus songs omitted from his set tonight.

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