Top positive review
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Well written and produced. Songs that keep you engaged, both lyrically and musically!
on December 18, 2015
Conor Oberst is one of the greatest lyricists of our time. I would actually put him with the likes of Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen. This album is no exception. His songs still have the poetic, conversational, storytelling quality that they have had all along, but with some added maturity. He paints beautiful, sometimes tragic pictures with his words, and leaves out some of the "whinyness" and ranting that have earned him some criticism in the past.
Aside from the lyrics, the tone of this album overall is relaxed and reflective; In fact, my wife and I have been enjoying listening to Upside Down Mountain as we drift off to sleep.
The backing vocals here are provided by an inspiring and beautiful duo of swedish sisters who go by the title, "First Aid Kit". Over the last few years the girls have built a working relationship with the Bright Eyes band, and they have helped each other record their albums and play live. First Aid Kit themselves are talented young songwriters, whose music and lyrics seem personal and meaningful.
Despite being a long time fan of Bright Eyes, I have never thought of Conor Oberst as being a particularly gifted guitarist, but more so an extremely gifted artist. I'd like to note that there are actually a few fairly technical sounding guitar parts on here. Perhaps not everywhere, but just some nice, subtle complications that help make the album flow and shine. I observe that as he gets older, Conor continues to perfect his craft.
There are a couple of sonic surprises on this album, such as "Kick", which comes in hard with distortion and synth, but these surprises tend to musically resolve themselves in a way that blends them in with the song.
Many subtle nuances such as bells, sparse percussion, piano, sax, backup vocals, etc, make the songs on Upside Down Mountain more interesting than most albums of today. The album is definitely more produced, as might be expected of a newer album. Sampled keyboards give the songs layers which add a certain depth to them.
Anyway, I would recommend this album to anyone who enjoys Bright Eyes, or who simply appreciates good songwriting. I rate this album along with what I would consider "the better half" of other albums from Bright Eyes. I hope you enjoy it as I have.