While it might be tempting to overanalyze why this record is released under the given name of Omaha's favorite sad son instead of his customary Bright Eyes appellation, any such analysis misses the point — which is that Conor Oberst is a deftly written, beautifully performed collection that might finally convince even the most vocal detractors that Oberst is truly one of this century's greatest songwriters. Sidestepping many of Bright Eyes' weaknesses — quavering and boyish vocals, overreaching lyrics, excessive and unnecessary stylistic experimentation — he gives the most confident and consistent performances of his most mature songs yet. While its lyrics are still destined to be borrowed for high-school yearbook inscriptions and MySpace headlines, this eponymous album yields more and richer delights with each listen.
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