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Conor Oberst has taken some time between his new cd “Upside Down Mountain” and his last recording, a 2011 Bright Eyes album. That, in itself, is a big change as he was in danger of over exposing his unique quaver of a voice with a new recording at least every year.  The whole album is a show of maturity from the artist whose main device has been to write about the sadness of being young.

Oberst is still as deapan straightforward as a singer can be but the themes of his songs have moved on and the relaxed nature he exhibits shows how he has come to deal with his new status as wise sage compared to upstart. That said, Oberst claims the new songs are a return to an earlier way he wrote and the melodies are as memorable as anything he’s written since Bright Eyes’ “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” from 2005.

This is his first album on a label other than his own Saddle Creek Records and the move from indie to major label might have a lot to do with the album’s maturation. He’s also got the voices of the singers in First Aid Kit, the Swedish duo he has worked with recently, adding some depth to his mostly acoustic arrangements.

Oberst’s shaky-voiced earnestness has always defined him and Upside Down Mountain establishes that demeanor as a style to admire, rather than one to try to grow out of.

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