Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bonnie "Prince" Billy

The Letting Go
Drag City

Bonnie “Prince” Billy has tapped into a wealth of inspiration by exploring the art of collaboration. Whether delving into the dark side of the male psyche with Matt Sweeney (Superwolf), or jamming on covers with Tortoise (The Brave & the Bold), new blood brings an incredible amount of variety to Will Oldham’s catalogue. The Letting Go is his first proper round of new songs to materialize since releasing Master and Everyone in 2003. The space between has left an indelible mark on his songwriting, most notably via Superwolf. But whereas Bonnie took a backseat to Sweeney’s songwriting, here he takes the reigns with Dawn “the Fawn” Fables in-tow.

With “Love Came to Me” and “I Called You Back” Oldham and Fables share dark duets somewhat reminiscent of the Gram-Emmylou dynamic. In no time darkness grabs the record, but rather than sinking into depression, Fables’ beaming croon brings an uplifting element that culminates over lush strings in “Cursed Sleep.” As such, Fables is Oldham’s not-s0-grievous angel, showing that indeed long is the way, and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.

There is a dark and sensual warmth shared between the two, giving rise to moods that are conncected by a humble bridge between two lovers regaining trust after a long fight. Fables' voice is used as a textural instrument in the “The Seedling” and “Then the Letting Go,” weighing in against Oldham’s brooding ways, steering him away from easing on down the roads he’s already traveled.

--Chad Radford