Wednesday, January 27, 2010

12. I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning – Bright Eyes (2005)

No masterpieces pop up overnight. Even the sudden rushes of critical fanfare that hit an unforeseen album upon release miss the months and years that said record spent in labour and, besides, Connor Oberst never had a shot at being the underdog. Signed to a label at thirteen and honing his craft in the public eye, Oberst worked hard through brilliant lo-fi promises (Letting Off the Happiness) and awkward, occasionally embarrassing concept-records (Fevers & Mirrors) for his masterpiece I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. Becoming a better singer and writing less impetuously was just the beginning; in no small part, Oberst risked his early-emo, bloodletting fanbase for a country record about New York featuring duets with Emmylou Harris.

That’s when Bright Eyes grew up, when Oberst was able to shape his songs from confidence and honesty, not delusions of grandeur. You can hear it in the patience of ‘We Are Nowhere And It’s Now’, the clearheaded poignancy of ‘First Day of My Life’ and the devastating originality of ‘Land Locked Blues’; this is Bright Eyes firing on all cylinders yet not having to scream to be heard.

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