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First Play: Conor Oberst, Ruminations

Judith Lynch

Conor Oberst has been making music since he was a teenager. While he's been a grown-up for some time now (he's 36) and has always been musicially mature, now is the perfect time for Oberst to release Ruminations.

I'm loathe to make comparisons, but Ruminations invokes memories of Nebraska, the critically acclaimed album from rocker Bruce Springsteen. Recorded in just two days during a winter in Omaha, the stripped-down recording contains nothing more than acoustic guitar, piano and Oberst's signature vocal style.

"I wasn't expecting to write a record. I honestly wasn't expecting to do much of anything," Oberst said in a press release. "Winter in Omaha can have a paralyzing effect on a person but in this case it worked in my favour. I was just staying up late every night playing piano and watching the snow pile up outside the window. Next thing I knew I had burned through all the firewood in the garage and had more than enough songs for a record."

Oberst is a little more introspective and a little less political on this record as he ruminates on things people approaching middle age can't seem to help but ruminate on, including health ("Counting Sheep" references a recent health scare Oberst had), the past ("Next of Kin") and being at the end of one's rope ("Gossamer Thin").

Ruminations will be released on Oct. 14. You can stream the album by clicking on the player above.