Bright Eyes

Evocative lyricism

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By Gary Graff  

Singer-songwriter Conor Obrest is no longer a teenage rock 'n' roll wunderkind. Now in his twenties, the leader of the Nebraska collective Bright Eyes is accomplished and ambitious. He demonstrates both characteristics on a pair of concurrently released, but equally substantive, releases.

Digital Ash in a Digital Urn is more electric and eclectic, sounding not unlike Wilco, and therefore is the more interesting of the two thanks to a greater array of moods and textures built atop subtle rhythmic loops. But the more plaintive and acoustic-oriented I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is a close second thanks to Oberst's tortured, evocative lyricism and guest harmonies by Emmylou Harris on three of the outstanding tracks. Each of these collections is worthwhile, and both are recommended.

Gary Graff writes extensively about music. His work has appeared widely in such publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Detroit Free Press, and Billboard.