Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - I See a Darkness

This is the only Will Oldham album I own, but it's about all I need from him. I don't often feel the burning desire to put it on merely because it requires a very specific mood. I got it at a time in my life when things were kinda gloomy and I wanted an album to commiserate with. But although it's definitely a darker album, there's an element of detachment I feel when I hear it. Like I'm hearing someone else telling their sad story, but I'm the neutral listener just absorbing the story without feeling much of an emotional response. Even when Will sings "Death to Everyone," I feel like he's telling some sort of mythical story or old legend of some sort, rather than a sad, pity-seeking lament. Good thing, too, because it'd be way too dramatic otherwise.
That said, the "story," or album, is very much worth listening to, even if you're not down in the dumps. It has a very reflective, sad, and even mournful mood, but there's a ray of hope and light that strikes through it all. The perfect example of this would be the title track, where Will sings:
Oh, no, I see a darkness
Did you know how much I love you?
Is a hope that somehow you
Could save me from this darkness.
The overall highlight for me has to be "Nomadic Revery (All Around)," which has a climactic buildup with a very effectual peak.
I don't normally talk about production, but I have to here because the production on this album is sublime. Everything is so subtle and clean, and so crystal clear. The drums, his voice, the piano...everything sounds as if it's being played live right in front of you. And there's an excellent use of overdubbed vocals.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this album to anyone who likes the idea of darker singer-songwriter music with a hint of gothic gloomy storytelling (or something like that).

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