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Bright Eyes' Low-Key Conversation

Bright Eyes crafts a duet that brings to mind a casual discussion between two world-weary singers.
Bright Eyes crafts a duet that brings to mind a casual discussion between two world-weary singers.

Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst has never been afraid to emote, whether as a famously Dylan-esque folkie or as the rock- and punk-oriented leader of bands such as Desaparecidos and Commander Venus. But on "Smoke Without Fire," featuring M. Ward, the pair crafts a duet that brings to mind a low-key conversation between two world-weary singers who've been through a long journey in both of their short adult lives.

Still, every time one of them tries to complain, the other is there to put him in his place. For every look at dark times — "And I forgot that life existed / I thought it was just some kind of game" — the song offers a gut check about living life to the fullest even when the day seems dark: "This pain in you / so far removed from anything you've known / So I won't condone another moan / not when everything is fine." It's always a pleasure to hear two of today's finest working songwriters collaborating, and "Smoke Without Fire" actually approximates the sum of its parts.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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John Richards
John Richards is the host and producer of The Morning Show with John on 90.3 FM KEXP Seattle, and online at kexp.org. He is also KEXP's assistant program director.
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