The songs we’re hearing from Conor Oberst’s new Upside Down Mountain sound less like a new man than an old favorite with new life. He’s certainly evolving, as evidenced by the brassy Caribbean sway of lead single “Hundreds Of Ways.” And yes, he’s cut down on the high-strung syllable-jamming word counts of yore. Still, check out this latest triumphantly horn-laden Southern rocker “Governor’s Ball,” which may or may not be about the New York music festival of the same name. (For the record, Oberst isn’t playing this year.) The pleasingly playful arrangement — that free-ranging slide guitar, those exultant choir parts, that slinky little piano riff! — is richer than we’ve ever heard from Oberst. But it bears the same unmistakable world-weary quiver we’ve known since his teenage days in Omaha, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Listen below.
Upside Down Mountain is out 5/20 via Nonesuch. Get “Governor’s Ball” on MP3 instantly when you pre-order the album in digital or physical formats. A 7-inch featuring “Hundreds Of Ways” and album outtake “Fast Friends” will be in independent music shops on Record Store Day (4/19), also via Nonesuch.