Now It's Overhead Fall Back Open

Sometimes a record label’s reputation can overshadow its roster, especially when the label in question is considered one of the hottest around. Such is the case with Omaha’s Saddle Creek, a label that has issued some wonderful album in the past couple of years. But even they can put a foot wrong. Fall Back Open, the second album by Now It’s Overhead, is some of the best evidence to date that not everything that Conor Oberst touches turns to gold. In fact, it is probably hampered by the baggage that comes with being a Saddle Creek band because there are certain expectations which simply aren’t met. That doesn’t stop Conor from showing up on one song, but a more valuable contribution comes via Maria and Orenda from Azure Ray and REM’s Michael Stipe. That doesn’t mean that Fall Back Open is a bad record, just an ordinary one that takes too long to get itself into gear. The first half of the album is taken up by songs that seem to be treading water, looking for a direction to go in. The turning point comes on "The Decision Made Itself” but things really fall into place with the last three songs, which find the right balance between melancholy introspection and layers of swirling atmosphere. (Saddle Creek)