Conor Oberst – Ruminations

Tuesday 04th, October 2016 / 14:53
By Willow Grier

Conor OberstNonesuch Records

Conor Oberst, for as long as modern memory serves, has been a voice of fragility and yet brazenly earnest confessionals. At first, the patron saint of the broken hearted, leading Bright Eyes to fame with a swath of sweetly sad and oddly compelling tales. This time around, when Oberst sat down to write, the intention to make an album was not there. But what poured out as he holed up in his hometown of Omaha, with snow piling up outside, and wood fire ashes piling up on the hearth, became a glowing and honest collection of stories that is the perfect soundtrack to the drawing cold of the season. Decidedly unpolished, with little effect, and warmth instilled by gloriously imperfect harmonica parts, the album dances between the stirring piano and guitar styles the songwriter is known for, with the air of a train hopping transient, looking to escape some unknown history. The highlight of the album is “Barbary Coast (Later),” a perfect Jack Kerouac-ian example of the aforementioned feeling. There are moments that make the listener think of Jeff Buckley (“You All Loved Him Once”) and Andy Shauf (the dark and uniquely human stories of the album, including “Mamah Borthwick”), and yet it all comes together so undeniably Conor Oberst.