Bright Eyes

Motion Sickness

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Although it may be difficult to document the path of Bright Eyes in 15 songs, Motion Sickness, which is culled from the winter 2005 tour following the release of I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (which also coincided with the release of Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, ignored here), does a good job of not only capturing the band's sound, but also of the place of Conor Oberst in the modern musical landscape; he is the 21st century's Bob Dylan, its troubadourian hero. If he is aware of this (and he certainly must be), he doesn't let on too much, focusing on his words and performance instead of his status and his image. By this point in his career, Oberst's voice has lost some of the extreme quaver that marked his reflective, descriptive lyrics with both a fragility and an arrogance not usually seen outside of precocious, sheltered teenagers. He sounds surer of himself, with a confidence that comes not from reading overly glowing critical reviews but from experience, both in art and life. And the band here, for the most part, is tight and in control, comfortable with the repertoire and the easy country-rock feel that the songs take. It's a good set, running through much of I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning but also touching upon Lifted (including a great rendition of "Method Acting"), Fevers and Mirrors (the pedal-steeled "Scale," aka "A Scale, a Mirror and Those Indifferent Clocks"), as well as a couple of B-sides ("True Blue" and the now famed "When the President Talks to God") and covers (Elliott Smith's "The Biggest Lie" and Feist's "Mushaboom," which, as the liner notes by touring drummer Jason Boesel reveal, was learned quickly on the tour, and honestly, sounds it, Oberst singing in an uncomfortable key and in uncomfortable tones, unrehearsed and a little off), not a greatest-hits collection but a strong selection of mature, intelligent songs, completely representative of what Bright Eyes has become.

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