4.5 out of 5 stars
In his most recent work, “Cassadaga,” Bright Eyes frontman and principal singer/songwriter Connor Oberst has created a body of songs that, in true folk rock tradition, epitomize conflicted American existence in times of social tumult. Lyrically and sonically, this album sweats and bleeds political and social angst.
“Cassadaga” possesses the tastefully constructed soul of a country record that becomes vivid with every stroke of the violin bow and every lick played out on the pedal steel guitar. The record showcases Oberst’s distinct home-grown approach to songwriting with the tracks grounded on a few strummed or picked acoustic guitar chords, which are then enveloped in expansive orchestral string arrangements.
Fans of previous Bright Eyes records are sure to enjoy “Cassadaga.” However, it is unlikely that the country crooner’s voice will win over many new fans. Oberst’s limited vocal range is still present, and in true Dylan fashion, he often slips into speaking when he reaches his vocal limit.
Overall, “Cassadaga” is a poignant and refined record that will stir the soul of even the most indifferent listener.
Key Tracks: “Four Winds,” “When the Brakeman Turns My Way,” “Middleman”
– Joseph Hannan, Staff Writer
“Because of You”
2.5 out of 5 stars
The innovative ink in R&B wonder boy Ne-Yo’s pen has run out. Coming off his critically acclaimed debut album, “In My Own Words,” Ne-Yo returns with “Because of You.” Unfortunately, his new album is nowhere near as brilliant as his debut, which was full of eloquent and catchy lyrics matched with stunning vocals. Maybe Ne-Yo is cursed with the sophomore slump.
Regardless, I expected more from Ne-Yo. Don’t get me wrong – the album is not horrible. It’s just not memorable lyrically or production wise. In the majority of his album, Ne-Yo talks about sex, love, withered relationships – typical R&B material. While Ne-Yo covered this material with lyrical prowess in his debut album, he was unable to repeat his strong efforts.
There are exceptions of course. One of his best tracks, “Do You,” has Ne-Yo questioning if an ex who has moved on still cares. “I know what we have is dead and gone/Too many times I made you cry/And I don’t mean to interrupt your life/I just wonder do I cross your mind,” he sings.
Maybe Ne-Yo will redeem himself with a slew of hit singles for other artists like Beyonc? – something he’s yet to fail at.
Key Tracks: “Because of You,” “Do You,”
“Make it Work”
– Monique Reuben, Copy Editor