Nov 22, 2022
By Sean Fennell
I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning is, in a lot of ways, the culmination of the early half of Conor Oberst’s career. A series of messy, bursting, sometimes brilliant records marked the first decade of his songwriting output but this was the first collection in which focus, songwriting craft, and musicality came together to create something that would stand the test of time. Oberst and the band have written and recorded dozens of good to great songs, but 2005’s I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning will be what they are remembered for. So it begs the questions, how do you make a companion EP reworking songs that are so beloved?
The answer, it seems, is to put these songs in a kind of time machine. I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning is an enduring record, but it is also very much of its specific moment, with Oberst dead set on taking the Iraq War mongers of the time to task repeatedly throughout. For the reissue’s companion EP the band has decided to keep the sentiment but to superimpose an entirely different sound on these songs, making them sound, for better or worse, more like the current iteration of Bright Eyes. “First Day of My Life” is a song you’ve heard even if you aren’t a Bright Eyes fan, one that’s surely been covered in coffee shop open mics from sea to shining sea, but here they turn what is hopeful little folk tune into thumping, pseudo-industrial song, one that is missing a significant amount of the charm of the original. It’s a similar story throughout the EP, even on the cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel,” a song that would make perfect sense in the context of the original I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning but feels out of place when rendered in the fashion of the companion EP. (www.thisisbrighteyes.com)
Author rating: 6/10
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