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Oberst has a penchant for the paranormal – Cassadaga was named after a century-old community of spiritualists in Florida.
"I really believe in the way the energy can consolidate in certain geographical spots," he says.
For the last decade the songwriter Conor Oberst has released the vast majority of his songs under that name, working with groups small and large.
Dipping into styles from folk-rock to punk to country to electronica, Bright Eyes relied on Oberst's sometimes painfully candid songs about romance, songwriting, politics and the porous boundary between art and life, always questioning his own honesty as he blurted things out.
"You can find it in a lot of different places, beautiful natural spots, or if you look at Islam or Judaism or Christianity, these ideas of holy places.
With Cassadaga, so many minds focusing on the same concept in the same place really reverberates in the air and everywhere.
He could sound as tormented as the emo rockers, who ultimately turned sensitivity into self-parody, but he also harked back to the 1960s, with tunes that baby boomers could appreciate.
Then you can't deny that there's other people, strangers, that are not only going to be hearing it and absorbing it but judging you.
Still boyish and introspective at 28, with the slight twang and unfailing politeness of his Midwestern upbringing, Oberst talks about his music and career with a mixture of humility – he takes pains to credit collaborators and friends – and something like curiosity.
The change in billing, he says, arose because Mike Mogis, whose instruments and production have increasingly defined the sound of Bright Eyes, isn't on the album.
His lyrics, sung with quivering immediacy, revealed every one of his growing pains. When you write a song, the goal is not to convey the details of your life.
Like his albums with Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst is a collection of songs about love, mortality, the state of the world and the lure of the road. And unlike many of Oberst's previous songs, they rarely leave a listener wondering who the real-life people were behind the lyrics. You should write a memoir or something if that's what you're going to do.
Their most recent album, Cassadaga, was a painstaking, sprawling project, wrapping elaborate orchestral arrangements around Oberst's songs about break-ups, rehab, spiritual quests and life as a musician.