"Four Winds" single Saddle Creek Records
I heard Conor Oberst's voice 6 years ago, I was forty eight. A burned mix of Bright Eyes songs, ended up in my car CD player. It included the groups first recordings and tracks from"Fevers and Mirrors". The voice, the lyrics and the music had an overwhelming effect on me.
I just lost it. It was very emotional reaction. The music had awakened something in me. My passion for music was dormant until that moment. It changed my life and I am grateful.
Every year since that time, I have looked forward to Bright Eyes' new releases, with excitement and anticipation. This year is no exception. Buying the CD is part of the experience, opening it and looking at the artwork and lyric pages. I make sure I put time aside to listen and read. I will listen over and over. I never get tired of it. Oberst's words are always layered with multiple inference. This is never an easy listening experience. I like to work for art!
I am excited by the sound and direction of these recordings. The music is similar to the 2005 release "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning" continuing with it’s alt country and rollicking folk flair. There is a difference, the production and orchestration are as layered as the lyrical content, mixing experimental effects that add an unexpected texture to the genre.The recordings have exceptional instrumentals including spectacular guitar riffs, awesome vocal harmonies and digital niceties like the repetition of the walking boots in the song "Tourist Trap". There are outstanding guest appearances from Dave Rawlings, Ben kweller and M. Ward, to name a few.
The alt country, violin driven "Four Winds" is the first track. The determined vocals emphasize the volatile lyrics .... / The Bible is blind /the Torah is deaf /the Quar'an is mute / if you buried them all together / you'd get close to the truth /. Religion turns away from the poor, displaced and forgotten. As another abandoned soul is remembered on a graffiti laden wall in a /chemical swirl/.
"Cartoon Blues" describes the abyss of depression as / a tumor we could not remove / an old friend / a constant / the blues / The music intensifies swept up in depression as the piano hammers out the demons. The strange sound effects express the lonely world of the blues. Then it breaks / I sweep up my broken spell /
I marvel at the lyrics. Like in "Tourist Trap", how the concrete city is depicted..../ The traffic is like a pack of dogs /. The title "Stray Dog Freedom" is thought provoking. I like the way the juxtaposition of words and meaning are intertwined. Opening the song with.... /There is a skinny dog/in a dirty parking lot /, these personifications bring to mind a broader context.
From the slow moving eerie gem "Smoke Without Fire" with M. Ward, to the beautiful orchestration and chorus, draping "Reinvent The Wheel", this six song collection are the appetizers, before the arrival of the full length main course, "Cassadaga". "Four Winds" are a welcome addition to my cherished and growing Bright Eyes collection.