Bright Eyes

Cassadaga (Saddle Creek)

Phases & Stages

Bright Eyes

Cassadaga (Saddle Creek)

Named for a Florida spiritualist community, Bright Eyes' seventh studio LP takes its tenuous conceit from communion with the dead. Although Conor Oberst has never been particularly well-attuned to voices outside of himself, Cassadaga manages a better balance of the political and personal as exemplified on "Four Winds" and "Cleanse Song." Saddle Creek über-producer Mike Mogis accentuates Oberst's continued channeling of Dylan with dusty layers of mandolin, Dobro, and pedal steel, while Gillian Welch, M. Ward, and Sleater-Kinney's Janet Weiss, if not fully taken advantage of, at least provide depth throughout. For all of the expectations the album fulfills, it also lacks an overall edge; "Classic Cars" is more Jackson Browne than Gram Parsons, and "Make a Plan to Love Me" squanders an entire orchestra. Cassadaga, while not exceptional in Oberst's canon, demonstrates a maturity that ensures his legacy beyond emo-folk.

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