Folksy team-up that makes us pine for Conor Oberst's full return

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Album Review: Bright Eyes And Neva Dinova - 'One Jug Of Wine, Two Vessels' (Saddle Creek)

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Album Review: Bright Eyes And Neva Dinova – ‘One Jug Of Wine, Two Vessels’ (Saddle Creek)

Before he settled into life as the the folksy liberal conscience of indie America, a kind of Iraq invasion Dylan, Conor Oberst used [a]Bright Eyes[/a] to make music that was angry, liquour-drenched, paranoid and – if anyone dare say it anymore – emo. [b]Neva Dinova[/b], meanwhile, are part of the Omaha‑based Saddle Creek clique. In 2004, with [a]Bright Eyes[/a] on the cusp of hugeness, they hunkered down together for some boozy sessions that became this collaborative split rarity of an EP. In retrospect, it sits in his discographyas the point where Oberst went, if not more sane, then more sonically sensible.

All this is significant now because the love-in between the pair has grown to such an extent that they’ve gone back, done four more tracks and given it a full-length release. Of the older stuff, Oberst and Dinova frontdude Jake Bellows split the reins, taking on the country and the bluesy end of things, respectively. But, as is often the case, both acts land up watered down. Dinova’s [b]‘Someone’s Love’[/b] is pretty, but doesn’t match their usual eerie psych. Oberst’s [b]‘Spring Cleaning’[/b] is the kind of cracked acoustic sketch he specialises in, but it never comes to life here.

Happier news is the fact that Oberst is scratching this itch in the first place. He’s hardly been a slouch since [a]Bright Eyes[/a] went on hiatus, making two [b]Mystic Valley Band[/b] albums and forming part of last year’s [b]Monsters Of Folk[/b] supergroup, but none of those endeavours mined quite the same magical, melodramatic fairy tales he attains under that name. Bellows takes the lead on the whimsical [b]‘Someone’s Love’[/b] and [b]‘Rollerskating’[/b], which makes the other two the first genuine [a]Bright Eyes[/a] material since 2007. [b]‘Happy Accident’[/b] is the more energetic customer, all crashing chords and snarled longing. But the real diamond here is the magisterially twisted [b]‘I Know You’[/b], in which Oberst trades barbed contradictions with a would-be lover over a spooky waltz: [i]“Walking with you through the courtyard where everything’s marble and smooth/You said the idea of perfection was just fundamentally cruel”[/i].

A new album is due by the year’s end; the reassurance that [a]Bright Eyes[/a] is back, bitter and beautiful as ever, is both thrilling and the only real reason for anyone other than the most feverish disciple to worry themselves with this curio.

[b]Dan Martin[/b]

[i]What do you think of the album? Let us know by posting a comment below.[/i]

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