BRIGHT EYES – ” Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground ” Reissue

Posted: November 11, 2022 in MUSIC

Bright Eyes released the second batch of their Companion EPs reissue series. Today’s installment is made up of complementary EPs for 2002’s “Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground” and 2005’s acoustic “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” and electronic “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn”. The Companion releases see the band going electronic for “I’m Wide Awake” and acoustic for the “Digital Ash” bonus tracks. Bright Eyes recruited a number of guests for the Companion EPs, including Becky Stark (of Lavender Diamond), Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings and Maria Taylor. Among the new tracks are covers of Azure Ray’s “November,” Townes Van Zandt’s “Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel” and The Faint’s “Agenda Suicide.”

“It’s a meaningful way to connect with the past that doesn’t feel totally nostalgic and self-indulgent,” Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst stated. “We are taking these songs and making them interesting to us all over again. I like that. I like a challenge. I like to be forced to do something that’s slightly hard, just to see if we can.”

“The first three are innocent in a way, because we didn’t have an audience when we were making them,” Oberst says. “But from “Lifted” on, I was definitely aware of an audience. “Lifted” was well-received right away, and then everything happened with “Wide Awake” and “Digital Ash.” Those two albums came out simultaneously. And their lead singles – “Take It Easy (Love Nothing),” from the austere, remote “Digital Ash”, and “Lua,” from the warm, folky “Wide Awake” – debuted in the top two slots on the Billboard Hot 100. “First Day of My Life,” also from “Wide Awake”, would later be voted the Number One love song of all time by NPR Music’s reader’s poll.

Bright Eyes had officially broken through. It was a heady, exciting time, but also fraughtand tense, both because of the band’s careening new fame, and because of the state of the world. When Bright Eyes made their Tonight Show debut in 2006, they chose to perform none of their shiny new hits, instead delivering a searing, harrowing rendition of their caustic anti-Bush anthem, “When The President Talks To God.”

These days, Oberst is still amusing himself by messing with the extremes Bright Eyes baked into this era’s releases, extremes that reflected the polar, with-us-or-against-us, fractious feel of the times. The reworked “Digital Ash” tracks, originally so clean and elegant, are, on the companion EP, full of “harmonica and mandolins – folky vibes,” Oberst says. While the analogue sweetness of the “Wide Awake” songs have been put through a detached nihilism filter. 

“LIFTED or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground” (2002)

released November 11th, 2022

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