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Crafted with the utmost sincerity then submitted with a brutal rawness, Ruminations captures a rough-hewn, homespun sound reminiscent of Oberst’s teenage demos while exhibiting the poetic wisdom of a man who has long walked the worn path of life.
At the intersection of loneliness and paranoia, Conor Oberst stands with his deepest feelings written on a cardboard sign—free from humility and with an open heart. The album’s tones are reflective of the Midwestern winter landscape in which they were recorded: cold as the snow falls, but looking forward to the fire. Sparse with instrumentation, the record solely features Oberst on acoustic guitar and piano, with textures overlaid by sweeping harmonica blasts.
The delicate slow burn of “Mamah Borthwick,” explores the ephemeral aspects of love while constructing tactful architectural metaphors and Frank Lloyd Wright tales. The album’s most energetic rocker, “A Little Uncanny,” is a name-checking stroll that picks at the iconic perfection of Jane Fonda and Ronald Reagan, then Oberst tips his hat to a few deceased muses before putting his own sensibility under the microscope.
Simplicity is at the heart of perfection on Ruminations, and simply put, it makes the heart race and ache with every passing chord.
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