For twenty years, or thereabouts, Conor Oberst has remained one of the preeminent voices in the indie/rock/folk genre. His songs can be brash and loud, or calm and to the point, and political with a hint of romance, and sometimes all in one song. However, you would like to describe him though you can’t leave out that he knows how to write a song.
Adding to the catalogue of music that he is currently attaining was last year’s October release of Ruminations. Where we heard just him a piano, sometimes harmonica and his guitar literally ruminate over everything from our current political state to life. The beauty of this album was its simplicity. I listened to this while driving on 74 heading toward Chicago, and it sounded like he set up a couple of microphones in his living room or some quiet place, hit record, and out came what you hear on the album. No cheap overdubs, no supporting band, no overproduction, nothing more than a guy playing some tunes in a room in Somewhereville, USA.
The follow up to Ruminations was Salutations. In which, he took the same songs, called his New York friends The Felice Brothers and they added their support. Salutations, with the added Felice Brothers, give the songs a different vibe; however, when and as I was listening to Ruminations I could hear a band. I could hear the other parts filling in spaces where there was only a piano, guitar, harmonica, and Conor’s voice. The addition of The Felice Brothers gives the album something a little dirtier and closer to home kind of sound. Yet, with this addition, there still remains the lyrics and Conor’s voice bringing it all together. If Ruminations was the idea then Salutations certainly does its job by simply introducing itself.
For anyone not familiar with Conor Oberst these two records are a good introduction to a catalogue that is vast. The two aforementioned records are numbers three and four under his own name, then there is everything he has done with Bright Eyes, Neva Dinova, Monsters of Folk, Deseparecidos, and The Mystic Valley Band, and considering how much there is out there in lovely land of music I am sure I am probably missing something. I’ve been listening to him for nearly twenty years and I’ve personally enjoyed every record. The newest records aren’t culminations they are merely more photos for the photo album.
This Saturday evening, he will be at The Taft Theatre which will surely be a great show. He’s by no means no David Bowie or Alice Cooper, but he will give you a good time nonetheless and that is what is most important. There is no possible rating I can give for someone who has been an inspiration both lyrically and musically. All I can finish off with is the following, and enjoy the listen. “Yeah, I met Lou Reed and Patti Smith, it didn’t mean anything to me, guess I lost my innocence a long time ago."