Bonnie Prince Billy: Is it the Sea? (BBC)

 |   |  1 min read

Bonnie Prince Billy: Wolf Among Wolves
Bonnie Prince Billy: Is it the Sea? (BBC)

Recorded live in Edinburgh before the release of his last album Lie Down in the Light (which as noted here was a slightly more upbeat if not uptempo outing for this prince of dark places) this is an exceptional release in the ever-expanding Billy (aka Will Oldham) canon.

With a small band of folk-locals Harem Scarem and guest voclaist Alex Neilson, Oldham reaches right back to some material from his earliest incarnation under the Palace moniker to the almost breezy Love Comes To Me from his 2006 album The Letting Go.

What impresses here is not simply the breadth of his songwriting - from old weird America to hints of Celtic folk, from murder ballads to suggestions of gospel - but the persuasiveness of his delivery while accompanied by fiddle, often hymnal sounding backing vocals and the most skeletal of acoustic guitar.

There is an almost ancient voice being conjured up which is timeless and intimate, and the large audience is hushed throughout.

Like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and (lesserly so) Neil Young, Oldham refashions older material to re-create them for himself and his audience, so this is not simply a "greatest hits" (ho ho ho, Oldham having a hit?) rendered live but songs being reoccupied and reconsidered.

Standouts are numerous but Wolf Among Wolves is utterly hypnotic as his voice cracks and creaks over wheezing accordion as he addresses pains of love and his weaknesses.

If Oldham/Billy/Palace etc is somehow only just coming on your radar then this would be a fine, if typically dark and demanding, place to start - although Lie Down in the Light might offer a few more rays of sunshine.

If Billy is already your man then this is one to confidently add to that burgeoning catalogue.

This is really quite something. 

 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Lydia Loveless: Real (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Lydia Loveless: Real (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Now onto her fifth album 25-year old Lydia Loveless (born Lydia Ankrom) draws a thread between brittle power pop, whatever passes for alt.country these days and classic guitar jangle with a... > Read more

Ruthie Foster: The Truth According to Ruthie Foster (Shock)

Ruthie Foster: The Truth According to Ruthie Foster (Shock)

This impressive soul-blues singer makes a guest appearance on the new Eric Bibb album Get On Board -- and Bibb contributes two tracks to this diverse collection of material which roams confidently... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Lowell Fulson: Trouble Trouble, The Definitive Early Years Collection (Fantastic Voyage/Southbound)

Lowell Fulson: Trouble Trouble, The Definitive Early Years Collection (Fantastic Voyage/Southbound)

Sometimes the singer-guitarist Lowell Fulson (1921-99) recorded as Lowell Fulsom and even Lowell Fullsom, but he was born Fulson although the liner notes to this three CD set suggest where the... > Read more

Central Coast New South Wales, Australia: Killing care on the road

Central Coast New South Wales, Australia: Killing care on the road

About halfway across, when traffic slows to a fume-filled crawl, I glance sideways to see the city's most famous icon. And it occurs to me this is the first time in three decades I've been... > Read more