Oberst has the tendency to be heavy-handed with metaphor, often reading like a hipper, more literate version of a 16-year-old's poetry journal. His newest effort, recorded in a rural Mexican locale dubbed Valle Místico, doesn't shy away from that kind of grating poetic license. Here, though, his words are absorbed by the music, so at least they become a simple piece of the larger whole. Instrumentally, Conor Oberst shares a stripped-down, cosmic American music feel with Bright Eyes' I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. "Cape Canaveral" opens the album with a tribal beat softly thumped out against the side of an acoustic guitar, with Oberst's vocal reverie and simply strummed melody providing counterpoint. "Sausalito" feels like the rockier end of the early No Depression genre spectrum, with Oberst's vocals mirroring Jeff Tweedy on the Anodyne-esque "Danny Callahan." These stabs at comfortably shambling country-rock and freak-folk are welcome refinements to Oberst's signature sound.
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