Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

The second installment of Will Oldham songs recorded under his nom de plume of Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Ease Down the Road finds Oldham playing his quintessential role as the crack-voiced acoustic troubadour. He is backed by a drunken choir and a rickety orchestra featuring, among others, brother Ned Oldham, avant-garde director Harmony Korine, Papa M's David Pajo, and a gaggle of longtime musical comrades from Oldham's first group, Palace. In comparison to the first Bonnie "Prince" album--the spectral I See a Darkness--the mood is warm, playful, and concerned mainly with love, infidelity, and the joys of the flesh; "She's a fine looking lady, and she likes to go down on me," croaks Oldham on "A King at Night," "And I like to go down on her too..." Lewdness aside, though, there's much to recommend Oldham's latest incarnation as a serious artist, rather than some lo-fi freak, suitable only for a niche audience; the lazy, sleep-encrusted love balladry of "Break of Day" drags on the castoffs of a raggedly clothed Bob Dylan, while "After I Made Love to You" gently embraces the gospel tradition, albeit a gospel to the joys of infidelity, with Oldham whispering of "doing something filthy / in a rented room tonight".

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