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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Bright Eyes - Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep your Ear to the Ground LP 2002

The King of the 'Camp Acoustic' genre comes up trumps again with one of his pre 'I'm Wide Awake...' offerings. If you like all things lo-fi-indie-folk-acoustic-rock-with affected vocals-camp-fire-sessions then Conor Oberst is the man for you. He is the dark lord of acoustic campness, it's as simple as that. Sufjan Stevens has a poster of him on his bedroom wall.

Conor doesn't deviate that much from the 'Bright Eyes' approach on 'Lifted'. It's all acoustic folkiness with heart felt lyrics delivered in a vocal reminiscent of a toned down Jeff Magnum who can sing. There are some nice touches and slight deviations from the standard that can be summarised as follows:

1) On the other Bright Eyes albums I own, Conor always throws in couple of tracks where he's merrily warbling away, but in the background you can just about hear some woman, presumably the studio cleaner or dinner lady, who is singing along with him in an echoey kind of way. The difference on Lifted is that the cleaner/dinner lady has a sweet and vulnerable quality to her voice, which leads me to believe she may actually be a proper singer. Definitely not a dinner lady.

2) At one point Conor loses it entirely and starts braying like a donkey. It doesn't last long, but it's a harsh and earsplitting moment and you're glad when it abruptly gets the chop.

3) As always there's one or two 'proper' songs with some commercial appeal on the album. It's as if the record company say, "Give us a couple of decent songs, and we'll let you fill up the rest of the LP with your self indulgent folkiness and donkey bray voice." In this case. Check out 'Lover I don't have to Love' as a prime candidate.

4) There's always at least one song on a Bright Eyes album with something approaching absolute lyrical brilliance. In this case it's 'Don't know when but a day is gonna come' which is stark, profound and has some horns playing in the background for good measure.

In summary, if you like Bright Eyes, you'll like 'Lifted.' If you're not sure, I'd definitely start with 'I'm wide awake, it's morning' as the entry level Bright Eyes offering.

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