Top critical review
Thoughtful and Intimate, but not Flawless
on October 24, 2008
"Cape Canaveral" blew me away from the instant I heard it. The opening track epitomizes what modern folk music is about: image-heavy, personal, intimate, and giving us a hint about how Sam Beam would sound if he were darker and more confessional. This song may be worth the price of the CD.
I was lying down while I gave this album its first listen-through, and "Lenders in the Temple" made me sit up with a start. The riff and vocalization (not the voice, but the pronunciation and double-tracked delivery) sounded so much like the late indie-icon Elliott Smith that for the briefest of moments, I forgot what I was listening to. It's a wonderful, haunting song.
Other standout songs: "Get-Well-Cards" and "I Don't Want to Die (in the Hospital)".
There are some definite throw-away tracks on this album. "Eagle on a Pole" drags. Its lyrics are beautiful, but Conor should've saved it for a book of poems. "Danny Callahan" is another piece that completely falls flat.
The overall ambiance and subtle production is wonderful, but this album gets a little slow. While Conor Oberst is frequently compared to Bob Dylan, here, without the lush background orchestration he had in "I'm Wide Awake", his songwriting muscle occasionally shows itself to be a little weak. Sometimes the gentle subtlety and straightforwardness gives way to boring and slow. Still, for the few great tracks on here, it's probably worth your money.