Artist: Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band
Album: Outer South
Released: May 5, 2009
Label: Merge Records
Rating: 4.8 / 10
Conor Oberst has decided to remove himself from the teen angst that has fueled his past albums under the moniker Bright Eyes. This is rather unfortunate. While it is commendable for an artist to desire to branch out from his carved-out niche, Oberst is the case in point that we shall forever refer to when describing musicians taking wrong turns.
One who has such a following should hold fast. Granted, musicians should grow, not always away from their roots, but possibly into their roots. Oberst’s 2008 self-titled album was genuinely heart-felt with quality writing. Outer South is neither. In fact, it sounds almost nothing like the other albums in Oberst’s discography. Outer South should more aptly be an album filed under The Mystic Valley Band with songs featuring Conor Oberst.
Oberst decided to team up with The Mystic Valley Band to create a less-than-mediocre album that requires patience to find its high points, hidden in each track.
The opener, “Slowly (Oh So Slowly)” is an upbeat folk-pop song that completely deceives the listener. At times Oberst is appears to be channeling Bob Dylan, but falls incredibly short. It’s dreadful enough to attempt to mimic a great artist such as Dylan; it’s even worse to fail horribly at doing so. “Air Mattress” should have been seriously reconsidered, just as the majority of the album should have been. It’s fairly easy to notice where Oberst’s influences the album and where the members of The Mystic Valley Band influence the album.
Outer South does have good points. It’s not entirely a sloppy piece of work, however, even most of the finest parts of Outer South are easy to ignore. The album should be stripped and sold for parts, in that, the songs worthy of being recorded sold as singles or EPs and the coat tailing songs be laid to rest