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Bright Eyes has a bright future

Becca Saunders | Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Just when it seems that all the guys who can play guitar have released albums, another one comes along. However, Conor Oberst is not the average early twenties pop rock guitar prodigy. No, Oberst is much more than that. He is an artist, who is essentially the maestro of his musical vehicle called Bright Eyes, which has been hugely popular in Indie rock circles for years. Although Oberst is only 24, the Omaha Neb. native learned to play guitar at the age of ten and made his first musical release by the age of 13. Rising to popularity after 2002’s “Lifted of The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground,” Bright Eyes has now found an audience not only in the indie rock circle, but is moving toward a larger fan base. A part of the “Vote for Change” concerts, Oberst has always been told that he was destined to become a great rock star someday. It seems that Oberst’s day may have arrived.”I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning,” one of the two new albums Bright Eyes just released, is a definite showing of the musical genius that is Oberst and his Bright Eyes counterparts. Overall, “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” is a mix of folk-rock that leans much more on the folk side for the most of the album, at times even stepping a hints of the old country-folk music genre. Songs cover a range of subjects and musical compositions. The opening song on the album, “At the Bottom of Everything” is about the story of a plane crash that Oberst actually speaks out before leading into the song that is, according to the story, sung to a woman by the man sitting next to her as the plane is crashing down. “At the Bottom of Everything” covers the large idea of purpose in living in a quirky yet provoking fashion that few but Oberst could pull off convincingly: “While my mother waters plants my father loads his gun. He says, Death will give us back to God, just like the setting sun is returned to the lonesome ocean.” Oberst does not stop at ideas regarding the purpose of life. “Lua” one of the best songs on the album is a darkly themed song about a drug romance between two people that are disconnected by the morning. The album covers a range of topics and suggests a great many philosophic views of life, but Oberst sums it all up in the first line of “Road to Joy,” which is the last song on the album: “The sun came up with no conclusions. Flowers sleeping in their beds. The city cemetery’s humming. I’m wide awake it’s morning.” For Oberst, it seems he simply accepts that life is going on around him and all he can do is be present to it. He presents a world with problems, but not with many concrete conclusions. Oberst’s philosophies are intriguing and his lyrics are refreshingly unique. The sound of Bright Eyes is folk rock with a bit of twist, including instruments from trumpets to organs and much more. While not every song on “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” is terrific, most of them are innovative and memorable. He may play the guitar and sing, but now there is finally an artist fitting that description that doesn’t sound like John Mayer.