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Conor Oberst

Salutations – 2017 (Nonesuch)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Conor Oberst

Conor Oberst's "Salutations" mainly draws upon songs from his prior "Ruminations" release, only this time the singer/songwriter has added help from a few famous musical friends, including veteran drummer Jim Keltner, as well as Gillian Welch, M. Ward, Jim James and Maria Taylor. And where "Ruminations" was stripped bare, "Salutations" features a full band sound.

To say "Salutations" is Dylan-esque would be a severe understatement. "Next of Kin," for instance, is a rambling, wordy folk song - colored with Greenwich Village-esque, folk revival harmonica - that sounds like it could have been borrowed from Bob's "Blood on the Tracks," or perhaps an even earlier effort.

The very next "Napalm," is angry and punctuated with percussive organ fills. On it, Oberst spits out memorable lines like, "Sometimes you need a vigilante if you wanna get a just thing done." Yes, he's wearing his influences conspicuously on his sleeve. But these are smart, entertaining influences that make you wish Dylan himself were still writing this same way. If it's a chip off the old block, it's all golden layers. Granted, Oberst does drop a few famous names here and there. During "Next of Kin," for instance, he recalls meeting Patty Smith and Lou Reed, but confesses, "It didn't make me feel different."

Listening to all these words fly out of Oberst's mouth brings to mind Jack Kerouac, back when he was writing "On the Road" - probably high as a kite on speed - by typing quickly on spools of paper, so as to not interrupt the hyperactive creative flow. Best of all, most of this speedy content delivery is top tier.