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Bright Eyes 

The People’s Key (Saddle Creek)

After two outings under his own name and an indie-supergroup side project (Monsters of Folk), Conor Oberst ducks back under the umbrella he’s best known for---Bright Eyes. Though most of the ramshackle alt-country has been obliterated, Oberst’s piercing lyrics and strained vocals remain, entrenched in big-picture songs about spirituality and philosophy, themes explored last on 2007’s Cassadaga. The People’s Key rocks more, a welcome change that goes as far to include a call and response (“Everyone, on the count of---” “Three!” from “Shell Game”). The high point is “Ladder Song,” a piano ballad in the vein of “Lua,” about a friend who committed suicide: “If I gotta go first/I’ll do it on my terms,” sings Oberst, and he always has.
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Vol 26, No 25
November 15, 2018

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