In the winter of 2016, Conor Oberst found himself hibernating in his hometown of Omaha after living in New York City for more than a decade. He emerged with the unexpectedly raw, unadorned solo album Ruminations. The results are almost sketch-like in their sparseness: Oberst alone with his guitar, piano, and harmonica. The 2021 Ruminations (Expanded Edition) includes five bonus tracks, four of which are previously unreleased. The vinyl, pressed on two 140-gram LPs, includes an exclusive etching on side D.
Conor Oberst’s Ruminations (Expanded Edition) is now available on all formats via Nonesuch Records. The expanded edition of Oberst’s critically acclaimed 2016 solo album, first available in limited release on vinyl for Record Store Day's RSD Drops last month, features five bonus tracks, four previously unreleased, as well as an etching on side D of the double LP. The five bonus tracks were recorded during the Ruminations sessions; while full band versions of them were released on the 2017 companion album Salutations, these solo acoustic recordings are now included for the first time on Ruminations.
Ruminations was recorded in the winter of 2016, when Oberst found himself hibernating in his hometown of Omaha after living in New York City for more than a decade. He emerged with the unexpectedly raw, unadorned album, which NPR called one of his “most personal records … a collection of brave, dark songs … unmistakably moving and contain[ing] some of Oberst's best lyrics and imagery.” The UK’s Sunday Times said it was his “rawest album yet …. Political and very, very personal,” calling Oberst “one of the best songwriters around.”
“I wasn't expecting to write a record,” said Oberst in 2016. “I honestly wasn’t expecting to do much of anything. Winter in Omaha can have a paralyzing effect on a person but in this case it worked in my favor. I was just staying up late every night playing piano and watching the snow pile up outside the window. Next thing I knew I had burned through all the firewood in the garage and had more than enough songs for a record. I recorded them quick to get them down but then it just felt right to leave them alone.”
In the Nebraska studio he built with his Bright Eyes bandmate and longtime friend Mike Mogis, Oberst recorded all the songs in the span of forty-eight hours. The results are almost sketch-like in their sparseness, and they ultimately became the songs that comprise Ruminations. These tracks do not have the multi-layered instrumentation of the most recent Bright Eyes and solo albums: This is Oberst alone with his guitar, piano, and harmonica; the songs connect with some of the rough magic and anxious poetry that first brought him to the attention of the world.
Recorded February 11 & 12, 2016, at ARC in Omaha, NE
Engineered by Ben Brodin
Mixed by Mike Mogis
Mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering
Art Direction & Design by Gary Burden and Jenice Heo for RTwerk & Co
Cover Photo by Julia Brokaw
Booklet cover image by Jenice Heo based on Julia Brokaw photo
All songs written by Conor Oberst, published by Bedrooms; Bedrooms and Spiders (BMI)
Conor Oberst, guitar, voice, harmonica, piano