Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

This Just In

Artist: Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Album: Lie Down in the Light
Source: Bought new

As I've mentioned previously, it's really never a bad time to invest in some new Will Oldham music. He seems more or less settled into his Bonnie persona, which is AOK by me--I'd say there's probably nothing finer in his body of work than the BPB's I See A Darkness.

Lie Down in the Light seems unlikely to change that ranking for me, but it's also probably heading for a spot close to the top. The last few Oldham discs I've heard had been stripping his sound down & back, laying only the darkest colors to a spare palette. That said, Lie Down sounds big and downright chipper, at least as far as that goes for the Bonnie One.

The opening track, "Easy Does It," starts off with a downcast lyric ("When there's just one thing I can do/Well you know I don't want to do it/When there's just one way to get through/Sometimes I don't want to go through with it") but I didn't really notice until I checked the booklet because Will sounds like he's singing through a shit-eating grin. (The artist photo on the back even shows Oldham with beams of pure white light shooting from his eyes.) Adding to the sunny vocal stance is the backing music, which producer Mark Nevers (a Lambchop man, who has brought along a few other 'Choppers to the session) has laid out with a subtle lushness. There's often a lot going on, with quiet violins and plinking percussion and harmony vox and such, but cobbled together in a way that's unobtrusive.

The whole disc is really quite beautiful, and Oldham even occasionally submits to the sunny sound with a happy song. "So Everyone" winds up with, "Now I want the world to see/Everybody look at me/I'm a good person and free/and she loves me." Sure, it's no "Shiny Happy People," but for this artist it's practically an ecstatic conniption.

The more I listen, the more little details are creeping out of the arrangements, which is making me want to listen more and more. Dammit Billy, you've done it to me again.

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