Wednesday, June 4, 2008

In The Light

Will Oldham a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Billy is undoubtedly Louisville, Kentucky´s finest export product since Cassius Clay. Bonnie pulls no punches either, and that´s probably why he´s an acquired taste for some. Me, I´ve been hooked on the gospel according to Oldham ever since I bought that great Palace Brothers´ debut single Ohio River Boat Song back in ´93. Bonnie does his own thing, stays independent and honest to himself, and accepts no compromise. As for the eloquence and feeling in his songs, I´d nearly call him the the Townes Van Zandt of his (lo-fi) generation. But man, I´m happy just to nominate Bonnie Prince Billy as the finest living singer/songwriter working today.

Hot on the heals of last year´s intense cover album Ask Forgiveness the prolific Billy has just now added yet another goodie to his already huge oeuvre. Compared to, say, the stark and gloomy The Letting Go (´06), Lie Down In The Light is a remarkably laid back and even sunny record. Hence the title I guess. If albums can be seen as reflections of a musician´s state of mind on a given moment in time, Oldham must be quite the happy camper nowadays. To quote You Remind Me Of Something (The Glory Goes): "I like the places where the night does not mean an end, where smiles break free and surprise is your friend, and dancing goes on in the kitchen at dawn to my favorite song."

The production on Lay Down In The Light - by Mark Nevers - is remarkably clear and the music´s beautifully arranged, with lots of tiny details buried just under the surface. And new singer Ashley Webber, who replaces Dawn McCarthy on female vocals, sure is a find. Just check out You Want That Picture to sample her qualities. Nearly made me think George Jones and Tammy Wynette for a minute there...

Bonnie Prince Billy - You Remind Me Of Something (The Glory Goes) MP3
Bonnie Prince Billy - (Keep Eye On) Other´s Gain MP3
Bonnie Prince Billy - You Want That Picture MP3

4 comments: said...

I was just listening to the song "lie down in the light" while I was checking your blog; I agree with all you say!
I love the mouth harp in this song!

Divinyl said...

Impressive blog Ramone. Thanks so much for the link...duly returned! :o)

Have you heard/seen this:

Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror - Jeffrey Lewis

The link is to a YouTube video...well worth watching!

Ramone666 said...

Knew the song, but not the clip. Thanks!

Unknown said...

You put it well. Oldham is probably the best living singer-songwriter (if you don't count older, living legends). He's one of few who writes about matters greater than superficial life, without just being weird.

Although I've been a fan of his for a long time, I recently paid better attention to the Palace version of Ohio River Boat Song and found myself amazed that someone of his generation could a write a song like that. And then the lo-fi way its performed suggests there's a hobo out there whistling melodies the world will never know.

I like the new album; it's very solid and different from the usual fare, but it's definitely not a favorite. Ease Down the Road and Master and Everyone reserve those spots.