Our teenage emo-driven hearts almost can’t handle the goodness that is Conor Oberst‘s Salutations. His latest release came to us officially on St. Patrick’s Day this year, in the throes of SXSW mania. And we’ve had a fair amount of time of hoarding this beautiful 17 track album to ourselves for quite some time. The song titles alone draw you in like a moth to flame, not to mention the emotional, honest vocals. But that’s what we’ve come to expect from the talent that is Oberst, the world’s most endearing singer songwriter.
“Too Late to Fixate” begins with beautiful guitar chords, which eventually blend in with strings and other instrumentals, held together with the raw, almost spoken, nature of Oberst’s vocals. The eventual addition of harmonica and backup vocals add a twang to the song that is a noticeable staple on the album, giving it a true folk feel. “Gossamer Thin” holds at the same moderate clip, lyrics discussing what could be seen as observations of the indiscretions of musicians. Third track “Overdue” is much the same in its bluesy, melancholic feel, singing through very relatable feelings. “Afterthought” and “Next Of Kin” present themselves as very similar to their predecessors, though the tempo adjusts slightly once we reach 6th track “Napalm” and – with the intelligent opening lyrics of “It’s a quixotic quest on a hot summer’s night” – we’re pulled into our first standout favorite of the album.
“Mamah Borthwick (A Sketch)” is set at a glacial pace, though that fact alone adds an almost other worldly aspect to the song’s progression. The most admirable line of the track? “And it would take a time machine to fulfill all of my fantasies.” (Us too, Conor.) “Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out” feels like the complete opposite of antecedent, if even only for the initial lyrics “Rise and shine, get out of bed / Get ready for the day” and its slightly faster pace. It does the album justice, however, by continuing in its brutally honest, specific lyrical composition. And while we listen to “Barbary Coast (Later)”, we have the strange feeling that Oberst is somehow channeling early Cat Stevens, and we’re digging the vibes.
Sixteenth track “A Little Uncanny” is our second favorite standout track on the album, something that throws us into nostalgia with lines like “I miss poor Robin Williams / I miss Sylvia Plath” and a rhythm that is undeniably danceable. He rounds the album out with the title track, making us feel “hopeless” with abandonment.
So we’re going to start it all over again for over an hour of gems from one of the most brilliant musicians in existence.