Conor Oberst's album Salutations, a companion piece to 2016's lauded Ruminations, comprises full-band versions of the ten songs from that solo album plus seven additional songs. Salutations was recorded at the famed Shangri-la Studios in Malibu and Five Star Studios in Echo Park with The Felice Brothers and the legendary drummer Jim Keltner, who co-produced the album. Guest performers include Jim James, Blake Mills, Maria Taylor, M. Ward, Gillian Welch, and Jonathan Wilson. The Independent says it's "probably the best work of the singer's career."
Conor Oberst released his album Salutations on Nonesuch Records, on March 17, 2017.
The album is a companion piece to 2016's lauded Ruminations. When Oberst wrote and recorded the songs on Ruminations, entirely solo—with just voice, piano, guitar and harmonica—he intended to ultimately record them with a full band. In the midst of putting together that band—upstate New York's The Felice Brothers plus the legendary drummer Jim Keltner (Neil Young, Jackson Browne, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and many more)—the passionate responses Oberst was getting to those first solo recordings, from friends and colleagues, encouraged him to release the songs as-is, in their original sparse form, as his seventh solo album: Ruminations, which was released in October 2016. Pitchfork called it “a record like none other in Oberst’s catalog, stunning for how utterly alone he sounds.” The Sunday Times of London called it "the rawest album yet from the forever troubled one-time voice of a generation" and "political and very, very personal," saying Oberst is "one of the best songwriters around."
Meanwhile, Oberst simultaneously moved ahead with his plans to record with the band, heading to the famed Shangri-la Studios in Malibu to record Salutations—co-produced with Keltner and engineered by long-time musical compadre Andy LeMaster. Guest contributions come courtesy of Jim James, Blake Mills, Maria Taylor, M. Ward, Gillian Welch, Gus Seyffert, Pearl Charles, Nathaniel Walcott, and Jonathan Wilson.
Salutations includes full-band versions of the ten songs from Ruminations, plus seven additional songs, some from an additional session at Five Star Studios in Echo Park in fall 2016. Oberst, who is currently touring Europe, will tour the United States with The Felice Brothers as his backing band in celebration of Salutations beginning March 9 in his hometown of Omaha, with stops at Los Angeles's Greek Theater in May and Celebrate Brooklyn Festival in July. See below for all of the currently scheduled US shows. Oberst has partnered with Plus 1 so that $1 from every ticket sold will go to support Planned Parenthood and their work delivering vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people in the US and worldwide.
A video for "A Little Uncanny," directed by Josh Rawson (The Felice Brothers), may be viewed above. "Napalm" may be heard below.
Oberst says of the Salutations sessions: "Jim was really the captain of the ship and the spiritual leader of the project. We leaned heavy on his fifty-plus years of musical insight to get us to where we needed to be. He brought such depth and dignity to the proceedings that made everyone else involved rise to the occasion. It was a true stroke of luck that he got involved when he did."
Produced by Jim Keltner and Conor Oberst
Engineered by Andy LeMaster at Shangri-La (Malibu, CA) and FiveStar (LA, CA) studios
Mixed by Andy LeMaster at FiveStar and Chase Park Transduction (Athens, GA)
Except tracks 2, 4, and 13 mixed by Mike Mogis at ARC (Omaha, NE)
Mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering (Portland, ME)
Assistant Engineer at FiveStar: Dave Cerminara.
Assistant Engineers at Shangri-La: David “Squirrel” Covell, Johnnie Burik
All songs written by Conor Oberst except 3 by Conor Oberst / James Felice
and 12 by Conor Oberst / Johnathan Rice / Taylor Goldsmith / Jonathan Wilson
String quartet arrangements on 8, 9, and 14 by Nathaniel Walcott
Art Direction & Design by Gary Burden and Jenice Heo for R Twerk & Co.
Front and Back Cover Photography by Gary Burden (Many thanks to Travis Schneider)
Inside Photography by Gary Burden, Julia Brokaw, Lindsey Best, Sarah Class, Lana Del Rey, Henry Diltz, Ryan Dwyer, Corina Figueroa Escamilla, Chris Phelps, Heidi Tappis, Joey Waronker
Conor Oberst, voice (1-17), piano (1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 17), harmonica (1, 2, 4, 5, 7-11, 14-16), electric guitar (3, 6, 12), guitar (4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16), wurlitzer (14)
Jim Keltner, drums (1-17), percussion (3, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, 17)
Josh Rawson, bass (1-11, 13-16), backing vocals (4)
James Felice, accordian (1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 13-15), backing vocals (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 14), wurlitzer (3, 7, 9, 15, 16), organ (6, 10, 11, 13), piano (13-15)
Ian Felice, electric guitar (1-11, 13-16), backing vocals (3, 4, 14, 16)
Greg Farley, violin (1-11, 13-16), backing vocals (1, 3, 4)
Andy LeMaster, backing vocals (1, 3, 4, 6, 11)
Jim James, backing vocals (2, 3, 10, 14)
Blake Mills, guitarrón (7), baritone guitar (7), guitar (10), electric guitar (14)
Gillian Welch, backing vocals (7, 15)
Daphne Chen, violin (8, 9, 14)
Richard Dodd, cello (8, 9, 14)
Eric Gorfain, violin (8, 9, 14)
Leah Katz, viola (8, 9, 14)
Maria Taylor, backing vocals (9, 13)
Gus Seyffert, bass (12, 17)
Jonathan Wilson, guitar (12, 17), piano (12, 17), synthesizer (12, 17)
Pearl Charles, backing vocals (12)
M. Ward, guitar (15)