The most striking feature about this new album is the sense of things broadening: the arrangements, the instrumentation, the lyrical content. Oberst's world-view is on display here several times, quite a departure from the introspective lyrics he has become (almost) famous for. The result of this deep musical and spiritual breath is quite satisfying for the most part. "Four Winds" is a remarkable tune on many levels, not the least of which being the engaging, rollicking one minute instumental intro. Elsewhere, tunes like "Soul Singer In A Session Band", "If The Brakeman Turns My Way", and "Hot Knives" are all soulful and strange (in a good way).
There's absolutely no doubt about Oberst's talent. Even non-fans have to acknowledge the artristry and keen eye for detail that he seemingly effortlessly is able to conjure. It's going to be interesting to see if this current path is a new road, or merely a diversion.
Written by Dan Reed