Conor Oberst – Ruminations

Album Review by Chris Ogden | 03 Oct 2016
  • Conor Oberst - Ruminations
Album title: Ruminations
Artist: Conor Oberst
Label: Nonesuch
Release date: 14 Oct

Written in the winter of last year during an extended visit to his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, Conor Oberst’s seventh solo album is his most low-key outing yet, its sparseness reflecting its unexpected nature. Recorded in a 48 hour stretch after a snowy flurry of inspiration with just a piano, guitar and harmonica, Ruminations shows the indie icon continuing to quieten after his most storied project Bright Eyes, and doubling down on his folk career.

While he may never again nail the zeitgeist as with I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, Oberst’s quavering voice and signature lyricism never fail to deliver moments of brilliance. His aphoristic insight has a gentler melancholy of late, and Ruminations’s sketches continue this trend from the playful piano of Gossamer Thin to mesmerising tearjerker Mamah Borthwick (A Sketch), a tenderly picked reflection on marriage. Even the obligatory political comment (A Little Uncanny, which skewers the Vietnam War and Ronald Reagan) is wryly defeatist, resisting the bluster of previous records.

By now Oberst has been around so long that it’s easy to take his prolificacy for granted. Ruminations isn’t going to blow anyone away – it’s in the title – but it is a quiet addition to his substantial body of work and this thoughtful set of acoustic songs will certainly keep us warm as winter sets in.

Listen to: Mamah Borthwick