Bright Eyes: Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground, a Companion EP

This companion EP is the fourth in a series of EPs re-issued with the original albums as part of a campaign by American band Bright Eyes.

Bright Eyes was founded in the mid-‘90s by singer-songwriter and guitarist Conor Oberst and consists of Oberst, multi-instrumentalists Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott, and further musicians drafted in from time to time.

In respect of the reissued albums, Oberst said that the “first three are innocent in a way, because we didn’t have an audience when we were making them. But from Lifted on, I was definitely aware of an audience. Lifted was well-received right away”.

Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (original album): facts and stats

Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground, a true mouthful of an album title, was released in 2002 and is Bright Eyes fourth album. The album was re-issued in 2016 in the US (including on cassette). It was the band’s first album to hit the charts – it reached The Billboard 200, spending one week at number 161.

The critical reviews tended to emphasise that this was an ambitious album. Mojo magazine said that “miraculously, it succeeds as a rambunctious, unruly grenade of largely unmitigated spleen, a hail of words set to music” (September 2002). Q Magazine considered it an “exhausting, emotionally wracked affair” (September 2002). NME classified it as “untrustworthy, confused, touching and idiotically ambitious; hard work that, undoubtedly, repays the effort” (September 2005).

Companion EP

The companion EP features re-recordings of five tracks from the album, namely “The Big Picture”, “You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will.”, “Laura Laurent”, “Nothing Gets Crossed Out”, “Waste of Paint” and a bonus track, “November”. Becky Stark adds vocals to “You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will.”, “Laura Laurent” and “November”, and Gillian Welch to “Nothing Gets Crossed Out”.

The new version of “The Big Picture” ditches the snippets of audio from the original (taking off almost 3 minutes of running time) and heads towards more straight-a-head rock. Conversely, the original rock of “You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will.” Is turned into a mostly electronic sounding track with an emotive vocal for the Companion release.

As for the other new versions: “Laura Laurent” is intensified through the full on production, but “Nothing Gets Crossed Out” is softened by more breadth of instrumentation and Welch’s vocal. “Waste of Paint” is transformed from the acoustic original into a bright alternative pop opus.

“November” is a cover of the title track of Azure Ray’s 2002 EP, one of the first releases on Saddle Creek Europe, and redirects the song from its gentle original with strings to lilting country with piano (Nate Walcott) and pedal steel (Mike Mogis).

Note: Companion EP available on opaque gold vinyl and download.

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Label: Dead Oceans
Release Date: 25 NOV 2022