Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “Danny Callahan” by Conor Oberst from his recent self-titled solo album out on Merge Records.
Conor Oberst has shuffled through a slew of musical identities over the course of his lengthy career as a the frontman for Bright Eyes. The noisy whine of Fevers and Mirrors, the refined singer-songwriter folk of I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, the electronic tinkering of Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, and the more slickly produced Cassadaga — Oberst has done nearly everything. Now, bereft of the Bright Eyes moniker (and band members) and plucking strings alongside The Mystic Valley Band, Oberst has finally embraced the genre he’s been skirting the edges of for his last two albums: alt-country. Yes, Oberst has been sliding down the alt-country track for his entire career, so this newest shift is a predictable one, but he manages to pull it off deftly, imbuing the at times impersonal slickness of Cassadaga with a soft-reedy warmth only an injection of old school country music can provide. Bright Eye’s purists worry-not: Oberst’s nasal delivery and razor sharp imagery still stand at the forefront of each song, while the guitars are just a little more twangy, the piano a little more rickety, and the bass just a bit more stand-up. Those biting down their nails for fear that Oberst has hung up his Bright Eyes’ boots for good, take heed; Oberst and crew will begin recording Cassadaga‘s follow-up in November. Before that, he’s continuing his world tour, which includes another stop in Seattle on October 24 at the Showbox (read a review of his previous Seattle performance here). Follow up on his MySpace page for updates and for now enjoy this playful video for “Souled Out!!!”, also from the new album: