Reviews

Bonnie Prince Billy

Alt-country's answer to Frank Abagnale, Will Oldham has recorded under noms de plume such as Palace Brothers, Pushkin, and Superwolf. Although his work under these monikers has gravitated toward eleventh-hour dustbowl despair and pre-ironic acoustic minimalism, Oldham has spent much of the 21st Century loitering as the warbling country-gent Bonnie "Prince" Billy. The changeling Prince is as laid-back as J.J. Cale or even Jimmy Buffett, and on Summer in the Southeast Oldham seems lost in his own private Margaritaville — albeit one reimagined by Southern gothic writer Flannery O'Connor. As ragged and loose as a pair of farmhand chinos, Oldham's band (headed by Superwolf compatriot Matt Sweeney) plays wobbly, wooly drunken shout-alongs of chestnuts such as "Wolf Among Wolves" and "I See a Darkness." But it's when the band grows menacing, as it does on sinister versions of "A Sucker's Evening" and "Death to Everyone," that it unleashes the beast that lurks beneath the inebriated sheep's wool.

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Andy Beta