BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Bonnie Prince Billy: Beware (Spin)

 |   |  1 min read

Bonnie Prince Billy: You Can't Hurt me Now
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Bonnie Prince Billy: Beware (Spin)

The previous album by Bonnie Prince Billy -- aka Will Oldham -- was the uneven but enjoyable Lie Down in the Light which found our former melancholy fellah in a somewhat more upbeat mood. It was bound to divide longtime listeners, most of whom probably preferred his "I see a darkness" side, or his wonderful The Letting Go which made the Best of Elsewhere 2006 list.

A consumer warning for miserablists then: this outing finds him almost alarmingly melodic (I hear as much slow Fifties pop balladry here as traditional country) and although there are lyrics which explore loneliness and the solitary life even these come bathed gently in trilling mandolin, romantic strings and weeping pedal steel, with soulful (almost gospel) backing, and are all delivered in a voice which is soft, empathetic and sensitive.

Despite the title and the somewhat foreboding cover art (lettering which refers to Neil Young also), this is a step further down the Lie Down in Light path, but more assured and less self-conscious than that outing.

Oldham has recently been talking about communicating more directly with his audience and reaching out, perhaps aware that no artist can remain static, or endure a musical life quite as introverted as his had been (that's assumes he has always been autobiographical and slightly morose, which is doubtful).

Beware has drifted through the smoke of pop and Nashville, a little Memphis soul and even has a whiff of Keith Richards/Gram Parsons country weeper about it.

Warm, melodic, inviting and yet still possessed of that appealing penumbra which has been Oldham's hallmark. Much recommended. 

 

 

Share It

Your Comments

Chris - Apr 7, 2009

Nice review Graham. My favourite BPB album is still the quietly brooding 'Master & Everyone' though, I hadn't spotted the Neil Young referencing title treatment but the moment you mentioned it the pin dropped.

Jesus - Dec 19, 2009

nice to hear from someone else that actually likes this album. i can't believe it's not on more 'best of 2009' lists.
will oldham fans are a fickle lot. this is great stuff.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Antony and the Johnsons: Swanlight (Spunk)

Antony and the Johnsons: Swanlight (Spunk)

This fourth album by Antony confirms what many already suspect, that a little of this divine, sublime voice can go a long way. All that high drama and quivering vocals, the allusive lyrics, the... > Read more

Various Artists: Womad New Zealand Sounds of the Planet 2010

Various Artists: Womad New Zealand Sounds of the Planet 2010

Here is the official 14 track compilation of artists at the 2010 Womad in Taranaki (March 12-14) and includes the exotic oud-folk-pop of Kamel el Harrachi, alt-world by Calexico, Ethiopian singer... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

KEVIN FIELD PROFILED (2012): The vision thing . . .

KEVIN FIELD PROFILED (2012): The vision thing . . .

Auckland jazz keyboard player Kevin Field has had a couple of major turning points in his career. One came when, at age 18, he realised he didn't want to pursue his classical piano studies to... > Read more

GUEST WRITER OWEN WOOD looks at when genius gets the blues

GUEST WRITER OWEN WOOD looks at when genius gets the blues

The flawed and ultimately doomed genius Truman Capote once wrote, "When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended solely for self-flagellation". When we... > Read more