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New Bright Eyes album shows growth, change and black, without the rock 'n' roll vices
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BY RYAN BROSMER
January 2005 was the last time Bright Eyes released a studio album, and it was actually two: "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn" and "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning."
The latter, described as singer-songwriter Conor Oberst's "New York album," went to the No. 3 spot on the Billboard charts.
Well, it's been more than two years since that success, which allowed Oberst to tour harder than ever and see more of America than he ever had. The product of that experience is "Cassadaga," the newest Bright Eyes album, due out next Tuesday.
The first single off the album is "Four Winds," a full-power, intense folk-rock track about the beauty found in this country's decadence. The lyrics on "Four Winds" are, by far, some of Oberst's best ever.
With energy and excitement he sings: "The Bible is blind / The Torah is deaf / The Qu'ran is mute / If you burn them all together you get close to the truth / But they're still pouring over Sanskrit under Ivy League moons / While shadows lengthen in the sun."
Many critics like to compare Bright Eyes to Bob Dylan, but on "Cassadaga" Oberst sometimes takes a turn toward the "Man in Black."
Each song on "Cassadaga" is more soulful than any previous Bright Eyes work. The comparison to Johnny Cash is prevalent, especially in the songs "Classic Cars" and "If the Brakeman Turns My Way."
This album is a definite change from any previous Bright Eyes album. The music has matured, along with the lyrics. Oberst's life has been chronicled through his work with Bright Eyes for more than 10 years, and it's good to get an album without a single song about depression, drug abuse or alcoholism.
To get the full experience of "Cassadaga," fans should also pick up the "Four Winds EP," which contains five tracks left off the final album.Ryan Brosmer is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University.