ACL Fest Saturday Reviews

ACL Fest Saturday Reviews

Conor Oberst

(Merge)

Conor Oberst reportedly sidestepped his Bright Eyes moniker and homegrown Omaha, Neb., label, Saddle Creek, to try a different approach, but the eponymous product doesn't stray far from the trajectory he's been traveling since 2005's I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. If anything, the LP is the most straightforward and accessible of his catalog, but that neither undermines nor compromises his songwriting or gravitas. Feeling more subdued in sound and comfortable in execution, songs such as "Sausalito" and "Moab" drive with the wanderlust of last year's Cassadaga, but the Dylan & Band roll of "Get-Well-Cards" and quiet spite of "Lenders in the Temple" balance Oberst's disillusion with a mature sense of narrative that finally extends beyond himself. "I Don't Want to Die (in the Hospital)" updates Lifted's "Let Not Shit Ourselves" with a defiant turn, and "NYC – Gone, Gone" delivers an electrified, Pogues-ish stomp. If intended to initiate his career's second act, Oberst has an impressive start. (6:30pm, AT&T stage.)

***.5

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