Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band.
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. Butch Hogan
Audio for this feature is no longer available.
When Conor Oberst hit the road last year in support of his eponymous solo debut, he took with him a group of close, longtime friends he dubbed The Mystic Valley Band. The group of half a dozen musicians had helped Oberst record his country-flavored album in Tepoztlan, Mexico's Valle Mistico in early 2008. While on tour, Oberst and members of the band continued to write and share songs with one another, eager to capture the energy of their live performances. By the end of 2008, Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band had enough material for a second album, and entered a studio in Tornillo, Texas, to lay down 16 new tracks. The album they came up with, Outer South, won't be released until May 5, but you can hear it in its entirety on NPR Music as an Exclusive First Listen.
Oberst has grown up a lot since he first started making music as the warbling frontman for the Nebraska-based band Bright Eyes. His own music, first on his 2008 solo album and again on Outer South, continues to be heavily influenced by country, folk and Americana. But Oberst's once-quavery voice and innocently boyish persona is gone. He sings with a stronger, more confident voice these days, his songs sound more seasoned and his narratives seem more reflective.
The Mystic Valley Band is Taylor Hollingsworth (guitar), Nik Freitas (guitar), Jason Boesel (drums), Macey Taylor (bass) and Nathaniel Walcott (piano/keyboards).