Well, I expected the worst, which paid off, as I really like this album. Yes, it is country. Yes it is dated, unoriginal, lyrically regressed. But there is something lovely about it. If you can just forget Bright Eyes for a minute.
This is easy-listening Conor, which is offensive, obviously, as the beauty of him has always been in the pain, the raw emotion. But it's not awful for him to be reflective, or mellow. It's just awful when he sounds like he's going to go 'yee-ha!'
Cape Canaveral is a soft, tender start to the album. I think I like the pared down ones the most. Get Well Cards could easily be on Cassadaga (it's quite Hot Knives-esque). He does sound like he's doing a Brandon Flowers impression on it, which is peculiar, but not entirely unpleasant. He almost shouts in parts, and he definitely goes out of tune a bit, which I like. I hate it when he's too polished but his voice does sound really strong on this album. Almost slick, but not inhuman like on 'Brakeman'.
Lenders Inside The Temple I love, I've been caning the live version of this for a while anyway. Lyrically it's Bright-Eyes strong, and very-anti country. It could be off Letting Off The Happiness. There's something really moving about it, I think it's probably the line 'I'd give a fortune to your infomercial if somebody would just take my call... take my call.' I like the wobble in his voice.
That's not to say I like ALL of this album. I think Danny Callahan and Souled Out! are both pretty average, so I was surprised they were the lead tracks from the album (this is why my hopes weren't high). They are reasonably catchy, but you wouldn't die if you'd never heard them. But Conor has always had a few throwaway tracks in his album like these (Train Under Water, for example).
The guitar/piano combination on I Don't Wanna Die in The Hospital should be highly offensive but actually the song is sooo damn catchy, it's totally forgivable. It makes me want to go to a ho-down. And he screams! Yay. NYC- Gone Gone also reminds me of this one, it's a catchy foot-stomper. If it was anyone other than Conor, I'd hate it. As it is, I love it.
Eagle on a Pole's lyrics; 'thought the kettle was a train, thought that monday was a door frame.' Has Conor been huffing too much of that magic dust again? Actually I really like that one, it's got passion.
Moab could easily be off I'm Wide Away it's Morning. Cos it's Conor, there's a stupid 50-second track which is an assault on your ears in the middle, but I couldn't cope without that these days.
Finally Milk Thistle finishes the album where Cape Canaveral started it, with understated emotion.
Do you know what, I think I like this album more than Cassadaga! There are songs I HAVE to skip on Cassadaga (Make a Plan to Love Me springs to mind- vomit), where I could happily put this on and just go for the ride. Shit, I never thought I'd say that!
Oh yeah, so here's the video for Souled Out! I was mega surprised to see Conor acting in it, normally he's soooo po-faced and not even in his videos, but here he is (with short hair again- yum) larking around (and he even has his top off at one point- oh yes!)
But you know, it's all about the music. I can't wait to go to Conor's solo gig later this month. He's back and I still love him. Always have, always will.