Oberst’s full band updates detract from original’s power

Conor Oberst, frontman of Bright Eyes, released a wonderful acoustic album this past October. His album, “Ruminations,” was filled with sincerity and reflection, and you could hear the raw emotion in his voice on every track.

His newest release, “Salutations,” was a surprise to many. Backed by The Felice Brothers, Salutations delivered something less satisfactory than I had hoped for.

Compared to “Ruminations,” “Salutations” feels sugar coated. It lacks the honesty and seriousness that “Ruminations” provided. Frankly, it was a let down.

An update of the earlier produced project, “Salutations” features the full band version of the album plus seven new songs. Although I do believe that “Salutations” is a decent album, it takes away the urgency and despondency that makes “Ruminations” such a great one.

If it would have been released on its own of before “Ruminations,” it would have been good.  I’m a big fan of Oberst, but this album just didn’t do justice to “Ruminations,” though I do commend him for picking a good backing band, The Felice Brothers.

I think it would have been extremely difficult to produce a follow up album of songs where the honesty lies in the bareness of the tracks. However, “Salutations” gives some of the songs life where it lacked before, particularly the song “A Little Uncanny.”

“Napalm” was released as a single before Salutations came out, but this song would have been extremely hard to pull off if it weren’t for the added full band. Another added song that I enjoyed off of “Salutations” was “Empty Hotel by the Sea.”

Oberst has been putting out music ever since his teens, and he’s now in his late 30s. Although “Salutations” was a little less than what I hoped for, I can’t be disappointed. After all of these years, he is still releasing good, quality music.

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