Review: Conor Oberst’s ‘Ruminations’ Approaches Midlife With Intimacy
Conor Oberst's seventh LP is a refreshing renewal of the anxiety-ridden intimacy that marked his earliest work with Bright Eyes nearly 20 years ago – usually just Oberst accompanied by piano, a moody harmonica and some spare acoustic finger-picking. The stakes are getting high as he bites into midlife. "Counting Sheep" addresses a recent medical scare (the diagnosis of a cyst on his brain) and begs for a good night's rest: "Closing my eyes, counting the sheep/Gun in my mouth, trying to sleep/Everything ends, everything has to." The refusal of hope or respite in these songs often makes Ruminations feel like Oberst's Blood on the Tracks.