At his best, Will Oldham makes contemplative music that will stir something inside of you. Or at least make you think somewhere between each carefully crafted note. On the new album I Made a Place by Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Oldham finds that sweet spot between folk structure and melodic undercurrents. The end result is magic set to music. Oldham is wiser in his elder years, proving that some acts can get better with age.
For starters Oldham’s sense of humor hasn’t gone away. The two songs he released when the album were announced are not on the actual album itself. So even if you love “At The Back of The Pit” and “In Good Faith,” consider them bonuses. What isn’t funny is the craft here. Alongside Oldham there’s a murderers row of other artists making up the band. Mike Hyman on drums, Joan Shelley on vocals and Nathan Salsburg on guitar round out those helping see these new songs into the light.
The opener “New Memory Box” and the closer “Building A Fire” are the perfect bookmarks to the album. Where the songwriting is above par, the craftsmanship in how the songs play out is on another level. “Dream Awhile” plays like a lullaby while “The Devil’s Throat” mixes fiddle and acoustic guitar in a way that would make most southerners proud. Brightness leaks from shining tracks like “Squid Eye” where “Far From Over” gives you a simplistic narrative through the lends of an acoustic. The words are just as well constructed, the music is like what you remember. Hopefully it won’t take another eight years for us to receive such beauty from this project.
The album can be purchased directly from Drag City on multiple formats and bundles. Bonnie “Prince” Billy is on tour beginning March 05 in Bloomington, IN at Buskirk-Chumley Theatre until March 14 in Northampton, MA at Academy of Music Theatre. Their complete tour dates can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Christian Hansen.