.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/conor-oberst-1400163701.jpg Upside Down Mountain

Conor Oberst

Upside Down Mountain

Nonesuch
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
May 19, 2014

"I'm blessed with a heart that doesn't stop," Conor Oberst declares in a still-boyish voice in the aptly titled "Zigzagging Toward the Light." At 34, the former indie-rock prodigy still writes and sings about the high times and bad choices of adolescence, on the way to matured love and responsibility, like the sharpest kid in the room: a florid Midwest Morrissey with Jeff Tweedy's twisted-pop savvy. "What a time to live among the ashen remnants of a love/That came before," Oberst sings in "Hundreds of Ways," against a sambalike sway, country guitar and brass. "I'm still looking for that now," he adds eagerly. 

Oberst faces west and backward, brilliantly, on Upside Down Mountain. A sumptuous immersion in Seventies California folk pop, it is the most immediately charming album he has ever made. Co-producer Jonathan Wilson, playing and leading a Laurel Canyon big band's worth of guitars and keyboards, frames the wreckage and Oberst's wishfulness like a younger David Lindley. That earthy luxury is also lined with gripping unease: the prickly electronics in the soft buoyance of "Time Forgot"; the Nashville-via-Tijuana noir of "Artifact #1"; the disruptive drum crash, like a slammed door, in "Double Life." But like Neil Young's Harvest and Jackson Browne's Late for the Sky, this is dreaming stalked by despair, then charged with rebound. "There are hundreds of ways," Oberst sings in that song, "to get through the day. . . . Now you just find one." Here's a good place to start.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bird on a Wire”

    Leonard Cohen | 1969

    While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com