As I started to listen to today’s album, “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” by the Omaha-based band Bright Eyes, I assumed this was another eclectic selection by my son. It turns out this album made the list as the #3 rated folk album by nme.com. I’m not sure I associate this record with folk music as it has more of an indie rock vibe, but A), I had never heard it before, and B), I enjoyed listening to it so I’m glad it made the list.
Bright Eyes is primarily singer and guitarist Conor Oberst, with the other two permanent members being Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott. There are at least a dozen other musicians who appear on this record, with the most recognizable being Emmylou Harris, who sings backing vocals on several tracks.
The record opens with an unusual story about a last-minute celebration of life in the midst of a plane crash. I’m glad I listened to this album after, and not before, my flight last night, but either way it leads into a beautifully happy-sad opening track, “At the Bottom of Everything”. This album and this song in particular have a bit of a Mumford & Sons feel, but I find it more entertaining and interesting. I also really like the “We Are Nowhere and It’s Now”, which is one of the duet vocals between Oberst and Harris.
Overall, this is an easy listen, if somewhat nondescript. Two other songs I will highlight from this record. The first is “Land Locked Blues”, another soulful and solemn harmony between Oberst and Harris, which breaks into war hymn “Taps”, which is appropriate on Memorial Day. The second is “Road to Joy”, which I correctly identified as a unique twist on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. Forty-five years later, those piano lessons finally pay dividends! Like most music of this nature, I would enjoy it best on a summer’s day in a bucolic and sunny rural setting, although I can also envision this playing in the corner of a sweet Virginia winery or brewery with my favorite girl.