Believe it or not, Bright Eyes aka Conor Oberst, been on the indie music scene for ten years now. In the time that most of us spend loafing around Australia or making half-hearted noises about getting a proper job, the 27-year-old from Nebraska has been clocking up his legion of fans by gigging around the world (he plays at Oxegen in July, incidentally) and putting out a notable amount of albums for one so fresh-faced. 'Cassadaga' is his seventh.
The name refers to a small town in central Florida containing a high population of psychics and mediums that Oberst, an agnostic, heard about and decided to check out. The spirit of the place is evident from the offset - 'Clairandients (Kill or Be Killled)' hears random distant voices muttering vague thoughts in surround sound while the lyrics illustrate the singer's dark apocalyptic vision. On 'Four Winds' he sings: "The Bible is blind, the torah is deaf, the qur'an is mute/if you burned them all together you'd get close to the truth."
This is a more lush soundscape than we've heard previously from Oberst, with swelling orchestration beneath his Dylan-esque prose. There's some psychedelic touches knitted through many of the songs too, which suggests that this artist has more strings to his bow than just that of alt-country.
Meanwhile, the beautiful ballad 'Make A Plan to Love Me' breathes tones of Leonard Cohen while 'Soul Singer in A Session Band', a rousing ode to a chaotic profession is built for mainstream radio airplay.
Gone is much of the angst and introspection of earlier work. Fans may well consider this Bright Eyes' finest album to date.
To buy 'Cassadaga' from the RTÉ eShop click here.