Didn’t Conor Oberst just release an album, like yesterday? To be exact, he dropped ‘Ruminations’ mid-October, so three months ago, but, in a surprising move, he is already releasing a new one, on March 17th. However, if you look at the tracklist of ‘Salutations’, you will notice the new record will feature 7 new songs, with also all 10 songs of ‘Ruminations’! Isn’t it a bit strange? However these ‘old’ songs were re-arranged, and recorded with a full band including the Felice Brother, drummer Jim Keltner and a long list of guest appearances including Jim James, Gillian Welch, Blake Mills, Pearl Charles, Gus Seyffert, Jonathan Wilson, M Ward, Nathaniel Walcott, and Maria Taylor. ‘Salutations’ is a sort of listening companion of ‘Ruminations’, it could be its sunnier side if you believe the cover, showing Conor drowning in a swimming pool, crushed by the sun.
‘Jim [Keltner] was really the captain of the ship and the spiritual leader of the project,’ Oberst said in a press release. ‘We leaned heavy on his 50-plus years of musical insight to get us to where we needed to be. He brought such depth and dignity to the proceedings that made everyone else involved rise to the occasion. It was a true stroke of luck that he got involved when he did.’
At the same time, we have now this new video of ‘A Little Uncanny’, a full-band version of the song accompanying an old fashion, VHS-style video directed by Josh Rawson. The squeaking start soon fills up with harmonica, guitar and Conor’s familiar voice, while showing and old and a young Conor, then Conor at different stages of his life played by different actors, even women. in a very ‘I’m Not There’ kind of way… and if you believed for a while that Conor was the new Dylan, it works.
And with Napalm’, the new song also shared via YouTube, you find Conor in full Bright Eyes/Mystic Valley form, shouting wordy lyrics at the top of a full-bloom folk explosion. There will certainly be a lot to explore in these lyrics, with plenty of literature references, as Conor manages to name check Billy Pilgrim (a character in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’), Heinrich Himmler (the leading member of the Nazi Party), Sam Peckinpah (the famous film director obsessed with violence), and Patty Hearst (famously kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army and turned terrorist), in the same song, and the entire thing has an explosive vibe with a war-theme running through it,… so the title. ‘Oh, I’m Billy Pilgrim you’re a Dresden doll/They carpet bomb the city/Thank God they spared the mall,’ he sings.
Pre-orders of Salutations at Amazon, iTunes and the Nonesuch store will come with immediate downloads of “A Little Uncanny“, Tachycardia, and Napalm. For a limited time, pre-orders at nonesuch.com also include an exclusive print autographed by Conor Oberst. Conor will also tour with The Felice Brothers as his backing band, and you can look here for a date near you.
‘Salutations’ track list:
Too Late to Fixate
Next of Kin
Till Saint Dymphna’s Kicks Us Out
Empty Hotel by the Sea
Rain Follows The Plow
You All Loved Him Once
A Little Uncanny
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