Bonny With Strings

May 23, 2006

Will Oldham's new Bonnie "Prince" Billy record, Then The Letting Go, is out in September, but damned if the first little taste didn't drop into our laps today.

Recorded in Iceland at the studio of the mighty Valgeir Sigurdsson, Oldham is pushing ever onwards into bigger, cleaner production, leaving the lo-fi, warbling artful dodger behind - and these first few tastes sound fierce. "The Cursed Sleep" is the first single on the record, and while lyrically the territory is familiar ("I slept sweetly unpretending/ That the night was always ending/ She breathed lightly right next to me/ I dreamed of her inside of me"), sonically the song is a bombastic ground swell with sweeping and diving string arrangements and a pretty blistering electric guitar lead. The Dirty 3's Jim White is on drums, and while we admit (blushingly) that he just recently popped up on our radar, we are in love. His sense of dynamics is outrageous - he pushes the songs up or down with surprising snare catches and bass hits, rather than by simply playing louder or softer. Rounding out the "The Cursed Sleep" single are "The Signifying Wolf" - a dark, blues-based, devil's gospel howler with a tribal chorus of wild vocal tracks and speaking in tongues - and "God's Small Song" - an abstracted lullaby with strings co-arranged by our holmie Nico Muhly. "The Signifying Wolf" is must-hear material, and will not be on the record. The rest of the specs:


1. Cursed Sleep

2. The Signifying Wolf

3. God's Small Song


Emmett Kelly, guitar

Dawn McCarthy, voice

Paul Oldham, bass

Jim White, drums

Valgeir Sigurdsson, recording

Posted: May 23, 2006
Bonny With Strings