David Dondero, ‘Simple Love’ (Team Love)
The world has David Dondero to blame and to thank for Conor Oberst. The Bright Eyes singer/songwriter clearly emulates the alt-rock journeyman’s lip-quivering vocal style and straightforward, narrative lyrics — and now even releases his records. But where Oberst succeeds in making connections with naked emotional gestures, Dondero lacks that raw poetic impulse, hitting his subjects too bluntly and plainly. That might’ve worked well for dust-bowl folkies, but nowadays, lines like “My religion is in nature, art, and literacy” (from “Rothko Chapel”) border on the schmaltzy.