Conor Oberst Gets Introspective on His New Album

Album Review

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Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain (Nonesuch)

Early Conor Oberst recordings show just how harsh the guy’s voice could be. His self-released debut, 1993’s Water, was particularly rough around the edges. But with the folk ensemble Bright Eyes and on his solo albums, Oberst has established himself as an artist who matters; and his voice has softened over the years too. “Time Forgot,” the gentle opener to his latest studio offering, is a beautiful ballad as Oberst’s quivering vocals convey the song’s emotional depth. Not all the songs here are so pensive. “Zigzagging Toward the Light” features call-and-response vocals and has a steady folk-rock beat, and “Night at Lake Unknown” has echoes of early Dylan. This album still won’t give Oberst the mainstream exposure he deserves — the songs are simply too introspective and devoid of hooks for that — but it’s a strong showing from an artist who continues to live up to the billing as a modern-day Bob Dylan.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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