This is a track from the new Bob Dylan album “Tempest”
A great tune from Punch Brothers.”New York City” (Live at WFUV).
Like to say something?
Will Oldham under the moniker Bonnie “Prince” Billy has released his umpteenth album, sixteenth from my reckoning and what a joy it is.
If you are looking for songs such as “Barcelona”, which I feel is one of the best songs ever written by anyone, you’ll be disappointed. However if you are a long time fan of Mr. Bonnie “Prince” Billy you will know that he can be more laid back than a lizard drinking water as it lies peacefully in the sun, this is one of those albums.
It would be too easy to dismiss at times Will Oldham’s laid backness for not trying hard and that would be a mistake. There are times when the acoustic intro to these songs is so quiet that especially listening in the car you wonder if your stereo has turned off and then of course all hearing is normally resumed as he sings with such majesty.
This album in all its quiet subtly has after many listens a multitude of nuances that surface each time you play the album. You listen and hear something, some build up in the song that never quite seemed to be there before, but obviously was.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy Performs “Quail and Dumplings” at the 2011 Calgary Folk Music Festival
The band consisting of superb singer Angel Olsen adds untold dimension to these delicate wonderful songs.
I’ve always had to listen carefully to what Will Oldham sings about and for awhile I’m not always sure of what he means and it takes a few listenings here too, but it comes and do we really always have to know anyways?
The God / religious theme appears from time to time and I’ve also been puzzled as to whether Oldham is religious or not. There are times when I think I have it pegged, and this includes past albums, and then he will sing a line that throws me, still that’s his business but it’s an interesting aspect that lies behind the man and his music.
The first track “No Match’ is very laid back with a slight country feel. There are lovely harmonies from Angel Olsen along with electric guitar and bass. Oldham sings of being no match, “I’m no match for those who love the Lord and they are no match for me”
“New Whaling” has a lovely acoustic intro, a reminder to me of a Crosby, Stills and Nash acoustic guitar style. Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s vocals are excellent here as they are on the whole album. He matures like a nicely stored bottle of red. The backing vocals echo the tune with “so far and here we are”. Quite a repetitive melody but done beautifully.
“Time To Be Clear” a reflective song where Will Oldham sings “got news of his passing” “God isn’t listening or else he is too late”. Another line that evokes religion but what a line. Angel Olsen’s vocal on this is exceptional and she is almost the solo instrument of the song, a nice touch where a guitar part would have been put in by another artist.
“New Tibet” has the opening lyric “as boys we fucked each other as men we lie and smile” well there is a line. This is what I love about Oldham. You are sitting comfortably listening to a subtle acoustic intro and then a line like this comes out straight from left of centre, he is never scared to stretch the thinking. This is another reflective tune “you think we don’t fight, birds fight birds hate” another remarkable song.
This album has enough of the clever lyrics that Will Oldham is known for and has made him one of America’s great storytellers. After repeated listens the album matures into a piece of work up there with many of the classic Will Oldham albums.
Throughout his career Oldham has immersed himself in that peculiar to America, not surprisingly as he is American, a folk and country style that reveals stories with characters that may be dark, may be joyful but at the same time have a peculiarity about them. There is always an interest for the listener, a world for you to enter and take on board if just for a short while.
The band is made up of what are at present his regular touring musicians, guitarist Emmett Kelly, a man of many instruments Shahzad Ismaily and the beautiful vocals of Angel Olsen plus Ben Boye, Van Campbell.
They bring a sparse presence to the album that is never overdone but at the same time is full of ideas amongst what at a first listening appears to be one of the quietest of the Bonnie “Prince” Billy albums.
There is an almost a theatrical sense of era to the songs which possibly is no surprise as Will Oldham also dabbles in acting. This is definitely a Bonnie “Prince” Billy album in the gist that there are no new directions, it’s what we have come to expect from an artist as great as Will Oldham.
Within the confinements of a song he has still managed to creek out with such subtly breaths of fresh air, stories to keep your interest for the whole journey.
Long live the “Prince” he lives another day.