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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy sounds hauntingly happy on Beware

click to enlarge SMILES AND CRIES: Bonnie

Despite the foreboding title and bleak black and white cover art — a curious nod to the first Danzig album and Neil Young's Tonight's the Night — Bonnie "Prince" Billy's Beware is an inviting entry into Will Oldham's haunting repertoire.

But a closer look reveals the layers of dark imagery hiding inside some of Oldham's most gorgeous, complex songs about the nature of love, happiness and existential rumination. Each song serves a cautionary tale, arriving as a Trojan horse that charms with a comfortable glow before opening up to expose its damaged character. The bucolic, acoustic strum and declaration — "I want to be your only friend" — that opens the album on "Beware Your Only Friend" suggests something more destructive than the naïve affections evoked by Oldham's words and sweet voice.

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(Photo by Adm. Wiley Balls)

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