[Cover photo credit to @autumndewilde, Madonna Inn, from the archives.]
Indie Folk project Bright Eyes have announced the second wave of releases as part of their ongoing “Companions” project. The project, announced in March 2022, sees the band rereleasing their entire catalog, each album accompanied by new recordings. Three sets of releases arrived on November 25th from Dead Oceans: Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground: A Companion, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning: A Companion, and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn: A Companion.
The EPs include guest performances from Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Becky Stark, and Maria Taylor as well as covers of “November by Azure Ray,” “Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel” by Townes Van Zandt and “Agenda Suicide” by The Faint.
Frontman Conor Oberst says:
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, and then everything happened with Wide Awake and Digital Ash.
These days, Oberst is still “messing with the extremes” of that era’s releases. That includes reworking Digital Ash tracks that were clean on the original album so that on the companion EP, they are full of “harmonica and mandolins – folky vibes,” Oberst says. Meanwhile, the analogue aspects of the Wide Awake songs have been put through a “detached nihilism filter”.