Bright Eyes: Cassadaga
To saddle Conor Oberst as this generation's Bob Dylan is to tie the winsome young writer to a cross of unmatchable expectation. Yet to honor the social commentary of his work – both cultural and emotional – and to recognize the unique of his metaphoric turns and the purity of his insight is to know why that comparison bobs as freely as a cork on the sea.
Cassadaga, named for a Central Florida town heavy with psychics, casts a wide-open view of America and offers the wunderkind's most full realized musical expression to date. Oberst conjures the slaughter of American Indians in South Dakota in the beautiful “Four Winds,” while “I Must Belong Somewhere” reflects the searching and seeking wanderlust that drives rootlessness.
Indeed, each song is a jewel – with the pure romanticism of “Make a Plan to Love Me” providing a non-clichéd, sigh-inducing moment.
Working again with producer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis, this is folk-grounded, lushly textured and, at times, a sumptuously stringed treasure that moves from pungent rock to near-psychedelia to classic country.
Guests ranging from Ben Kweller and ex-Sleater Kinney Janet Weiss to Rilo Kiley's Jason Boessel, Rachel Yamagata, M. Ward and holler-voiced Gillian Welch further expand the post modern Americana that Bright Eyes captures in amber.