Conor Oberst Performs with the Mystic Valley Band at Culture Room

Head to Fort Lauderdale Tuesday to see the man in gray.

Perhaps that's why the LP is so majestically maudlin, as Oberst sang on Morning's perfectly poignant "Poison Oak" — "the sound of loneliness makes me happier." And if that's the case here, he's at his happiest yet. Listen to "Eagle on a Pole" and its isolation, "Cape Canaveral" and its snapshot longing, and "Moab," with its indeterminate belief that the road will heal everything. There were hints of this joyous woe in Bright Eyes' last outing, 2007's Cassadaga, especially in the quietly anthemic "If the Brakeman Comes My Way." But here the flower has wilted in full bloom.

And that is the album's essential beauty. Like Leonard Cohen's infamous line about there being a crack in everything and "that's how the light gets in," Conor Oberst reveals the happiness of heartbreak, the loveliness of loss, and the utter warmth of solitude. Oh, it's not all "woe is me," but when it is, it's terrific.

Conor Oberst
Autumn de Wilde
Conor Oberst

Details

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band: With the Felice Brothers and Rig 1. Tuesday, November 18. Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $24.99. All ages. 954-564-1074, www.cultureroom.net

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Which brings me back to Omaha and its slate-gray composition. No one could stand such a shade without seeing in it something other than its surface — a crack, if you will, that brings about illumination — and no one could have lived through such solace without finding in it some beauty. Conor Oberst might now call New York his home, but in his blood, bones, heart, and soul runs the color of the town from which he came. To me it was simply gray; to Oberst it is breathtaking.

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