Bonnie "Prince" Billy: Lie Down in the Light

By: Sarah Moore

Will Oldham's latest release under pseudonym Bonnie "Prince" Billy is yet another impressive album under the man's belt. The folk musician puts out some sort of release, be it EP, LP or collaboration, at least once a year, but each work usually has an integrity of an album that took years to create. Such is the case with Lie Down in the Light (Drag City), Oldham's blue album with a psychedelic comic of a shirtless man giving a headlock to a green, multi-colored winged humanoid on the cover. As usual, Oldham is joined by his two regular band members and an extended list of Nashville guest musicians lending their talents on such instruments as clarinet, pedal steel, shrooti box (band member Emmett Kelly) and "row of wrenches." Rather than pretentious, though, Oldham's interesting array of instruments disperses in a subtle mixture.

"Easy Does It" starts the disc off on a gentle note with Oldham's borderline-fragile tenor and dissonant vocal harmonies. A country tone creeps in with elongated fiddle (Glen Duncan) and Old West saloon piano (Shahzad Ismaily). Oldham sends a message of "simpler is better" with lines like, "Now there is just one way / I stretch out my arms and cry to the just one day/ I welcome the moonlight above me and wander."

Light is perhaps Oldham's most country record of late. Duets with Ashley Webber bring a male/female interplay on such tracks as "So Everyone" and "You Want that Picture." Webber's deep alto offers a complement to Oldham's tones rather than contrasting. Her delicate voice brings in a Stevie Nicks-with-a-twang quality. Oldham's compositions are consistently well-written and arranged, as intensities build and wane, dynamics and rhythms shift, and just the right instruments play at just the right moments.

Disc highlight "Keep an Eye on Other's Gain" offers unexpected vocal harmonies amidst Kelly's ambient and otherworldly layers of recorder. Think of a group of fourth graders playing the recorder at different moments, offering contrasting notes, yet all of the dissonance comes together to make sense. The song speaks as an adage from one's parents in order to stay ahead, and the song brightens as the dictums are spouted. "And keep your loved ones near" the song repeats, echoing the family-centered theme that resounds throughout several songs.

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Comments

aquariumdrunk starstarstarstarstar Wed 7/30/2008 07:21AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

aquariumdrunk

This is a damn near perfect album and, as far as I'm concerned, one of the best things Will Oldham has ever done. We'll see how time treats it, but at this point, I couldn't be happier!

jalew Wed 7/30/2008 07:32AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

jalew

how long has this been out? i feel like i've had this album for at least 6 months. it is another great album from "Prince" Billy. Worth checking out if you are into his music.

SOAM84 starstarstarstarstar Wed 7/30/2008 09:57AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Mr. Oldham is the greatest Singer song writer of our time....beside mr. Vicky Chestnutt.

Jukebox Hero Thu 7/31/2008 06:44AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Jukebox Hero

This album is fantastic. It's my favorite since Ease down the Road and may be surpassing that album the more I listen. Definitely in the top five of all of Oldham's releases including Palace, etc. which is really saying something. If you happen to get the rare chance to see this guy live, do it. I saw him play I See A Darkness from start to finish a couple years ago and it was hands down one of the best shows I've ever seen.

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks Fri 8/1/2008 01:56PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks

03-19-09 Walker Art Center MPLS MN