When Conor Oberst released ‘Ruminations’ last October, it wasn’t quite the record he set out to make. Recorded in just 48 hours with nothing but his voice, piano, guitar and harmonica, what was originally intended as the record’s bare bones became its fully realised form. The result was arguably his most honest work to date, but while the world was singing his praises, he forged ahead with his plans to record with a full band.
As such, ‘Salutations’ is best viewed as a companion piece, with the ten tracks that populated that record fleshed out and accompanied by a further seven. When the original material is as strong as it is, are more tracks necessary or do they dilute the finished product?
The answer is both. Opener ‘Too Late to Fixate’ is a new addition, and arguably one of the strongest tracks on offer. Built around a loping piano and harmonica combination, it’s a track that feels like quintessential Oberst.
Releasing two similar albums in such close proximity might seem like a cynical attempt to double-down on the success of the first, but rather than feel like a re-release thrown together by label execs, these were the tracks as they should be; rich, nuanced, and steeped in major key melodies.