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Lie Down In the Light: Will Oldham in Repose

Posted by Miss Ess, May 27, 2008 12:27pm | Post a Comment
The new Bonnie Prince Billy album is quite pleasing.  It's called Lie Down In the Light and it has thebonnie prince billy lie down in the light will oldham drag city quality elements we expect from a BPB record-- the loose harmonies, addicting melodies and bawdy lyrics, and yet it also has new elements that make it unlike past BPB albums. 

Admirably, BPB (aka Will Oldham) is always experimenting and each of his releases has distinguishing characteristics.  This record has more piano than I remember in any albums past.  It also has more noticeable Southern influences than he's included in a while-- the song "I'll Be Glad" is a straight up gospel-y number, but kinda country-ish too, seeing as it is about the strength of God, and there's backup singers and pedal steel guitar all over it.  Then there's also the random but welcome addition of a jazzy clarinet on "For Every Field There's A Mole,"  and it all sounds seamless!

Lyrically the record is sort of simplistic, which caught me off guard at first, but upon repeated listening, I get it.  Oldham recently lost his father, and in my opinion this is reflected in the lyrical simplicity, which often pertains to showing your friends and family love ("Keep your loved ones near/cause others need you right here by/just as you need me" from "Other's Gain."), and enjoying the easy pleasures of life in the now, such as dancing around the kitchen all night in the track "Easy Does It." 

will oldham bonnie prince billy

One of the very best aspects of this latest album is the vocals by Ashley Webber, who adds a depth and emotionality to her duets with Will that was never matched by his most recent previous duet partner, Dawn McCarthy of Faun Fables.  Webber is apparently the twin sister of Black Mountain's Amber Webber, who happens to be one of my favorite vocalists out there right now.  I still am not sure if I marin headlandsactually believe Amber has a twin...I wouldn't be surprised if it was Amber herself on these tracks!  But who knows.  Either way, the voice is fantastic and brings the songs to greater heights than they would reach without her.  The tracks she is featured on are the best on the record.

Sometimes the songs get a bit meandering, but overall I think Lie Down In the Light is a good, solid addition to BPB's already humongous catalog of fantastic releases.

By the way, Bonnie's been seen hanging out around town lately here in San Francisco, and also at the Headlands Institute, where he is currently an Artist in Residence.

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Will Oldham (13), Bonnie Prince Billy (17), Lie Down In The Light (1), Black Mountain (2), Amber Webber (1), Ashley Webber (1)