As a vocalist and guitarist, Oren's earthy baritone and plaintively powerful fingerpicking style will inspire thoughts of Smog's Bill Callahan and Brit Folk progenitor Nick Drake, if he'd been raised in the upper Midwest. And as a political activist and a roadbound troubadour, Oren certainly wears the colors of Woody Guthrie and Phil Ochs, who roamed the country they loved in order to sound the alarms for their respective generations about the ills of the day that would have consequences far beyond their lifetimes.
Oren was born in Columbus, Ind., setting his poems to music as a high-schooler to deal with teenage angst and as a natural escape valve for his already finely developed sense of sociopolitical outrage. After learning the lessons of Occupy Wall Street, Oren loaded his meager belongings into his battered pickup truck and began crisscrossing the country, writing songs about his personal experiences and the collective ennui that has gripped the nation for so long.
Oren caught an early break with an opening slot for singer/songwriter Joe Pug, whose creative sensibilities mirror his, leading Pug to offer Oren the same opportunity for a bigger Chicago show. Shortly after, Wilco drummer and renowned producer Ken Coomer also took notice and invited Oren to Nashville, where they cherry-picked some of the city's best talents (including Sturgill Simpson guitarist Laur Joamets and John Fogerty keyboardist Michael Webb) to create an all-star band and make Anthropocene.
The title of Oren's latest potent album is a reference to a recently adopted scientific term describing the epoch of human existence and the effect that our stewardship has had on the planet as a whole, which is not exactly a cheery subject. But unlike a good many Folk naysayers who merely shake their fists at injustice from soapboxes, Oren offers glimmers of hope and inspires people to make an effort to change the things they would like to see changed. On the road, Anthropocene's sonic atmospherics are stripped down to Oren and his guitar, but that's exactly how his songs began and, if anything, they blossom into full flowers in that stark environment.