Photo by Ryan Fox
SADDLE CREEK RECORDS
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You wouldn't think Omaha, Nebraska, could contain the musical talent that's currently flooding its city limits. But if spending time submerged in a flat-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see town like Omaha doesn't make you pedal away as soon as you learn to ride a bicycle, you've likely found something interesting there to hold on to. And the musicians on Mayday have definitely found something. A collection of formidable indie Saddle Creek's all-star talents, Mayday offers a variety of familiar voices—Bright Eyes' shrill-but-lovable Conor Oberst, the dolorous vocals of the Good Life's Tim Kasher, the cinnamon-candle warmth of the Azure Ray girls, and the relaxing sparseness of Lullaby for the Working Class' Ted Stevens. But Old Blood isn't quite a compilation CD. Instead, the featured artists on a selection of Stevens' compositions are able to bury themselves in the songs, maintaining the album's continuity. Intense musical solidarity like this is certainly no easy feat for a multimusician project, but that solidarity is also what has become so refreshing about these Midwestern songwriters. With invigorating themes of rebirth and the search for companionship, Old Blood's overarching concept of springtime renewal is hopeful, if offset by an underlying melancholy that keeps it from gushing. (Russell Brock)