Music Review: Ruminations
I have grown up listening to the music of Conor Oberst. Back in the Bright Eye days, I bought "Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground" and "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" the day they were released. I have been less on top of things in adulthood, but Conor's recent "solo albums" have been quite good too.
So when Ruminations showed up on my suggested listen list, I chuckled to myself and quickly hit play. It didn't take an expert to know I would enjoy the album. But I was not ready for what I heard. This album is Conor at his best. He has grown up. His voice is weary. The background noise is gone. It's simply him and his instruments (including some whimsical harmonica playing).
Tracks like "Barbary Coast," "Gossamer Thin," and "You All Loved Him Once" made me stop what I was doing and just listen. It was almost as if Conor's music had miraculously matured in step with me. Each and every note provoked recurring feelings of familiarity.
The refocusing of his music around piano — which drives half the album — makes Oberst sound just ever so different. Without breaking new ground or changing his unique style, "The Rain Follows the Plow," "Next of Kin," and "Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out" provide something substantially new. That said, Oberst's skill on piano will probably need to improve if he will continue writing in the medium.
All in all, Ruminations is the sickly addictive album that you wake up singing. Every line in the album seems etched into my mind currently. Still only 36 years of age, one can only hope that Conor Oberst has more years of music writing left in him.