My biggest issue with Bright Eyes has always been Conor Oberst’s need to trivialize emotion in his material. Much of his earlier material had a way of being overbearing and too often relied on those over-the-top dramatics to pull listeners in. With 2005’s I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, I got the feeling that Oberst was finally moving away from that reliance. Cassadaga continues to see him growing into his artistry. He finally sounds comfortable in his own skin. There is something so simple and refreshing about Oberst’s later work. This is truly endearing work and that is an adjective I never thought I would use to describe Bright Eyes. Cassadaga is a contradiction though. The simplicity of these songs is offset by how heavy and full the album feels. The album clocks in at an hour and is by far the most instrumentally expansive Bright Eyes work yet. At times it is a bit much and it shows as the weight and length drag the album as a whole down a bit. Still, Cassadaga remains a rewarding and enlightening listening experience despite its faults. The journey through Cassadaga mirrors Oberst’s own journey to find his voice. To see Conor Oberst still searching nearly ten years after the Bright Eyes moniker first emerged is comforting to say the least.