Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Marquis de Tren – Solemns (Drag City/Palace Records)

The Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince Billy discography, an increasingly rich treasure-trove, takes on different permeations due to the ever-changing musicians he works with on his material. Much had been made about his return to solo album simply titled Bonnie Prince Billy. So it’s somewhat understandable that this brief three-song 12” goes beneath the radar. Solemns reunites Oldham with Mick Turner and Jim White of the Dirty Three, (or the Tren Brothers when its just the two of them) two players whose unique dream-like sympathies merge perfectly with Oldham’s vivid and dramatic songwriting. Having last teamed up on the recently reissued Get On Jolly E.P back in 2000, these three haunting tracks offer a stirring melancholy, and ambience. New to the combo is the vocal counter-point of Angel Olsen, who gives a subtle yet affecting balance to Oldham’s vocal deliveries. Her melodies add further complexities to Oldham’s narratives, charting familiar themes to those who follow him sporadically or religiously. Whenever Bonny Billy teams with the Tren Brothers magic happens as evidenced again here all too briefly. Here’s hoping they record a whole album sometime.

by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 10/28/2013 in Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , ,