Album Reviews

Bonnie "Prince" Billy LIE DOWN IN THE LIGHT [Drag City]

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Since the only activity coming from Will Oldham's camp since the release of 2006's lush, orchestrated effort The Letting Go came in the form of a handful of holdover releases-including Wai Notes, a collection of demos from that album, a live LP and an EP of covers-it would have been easy to imagine the songwriter patiently toiling away on another album of equally epic magnitude in the meantime. But the suddenly announced and quickly released Lie Down in the Light is feather weight compared to its predecessor-a warm, amiable work marked by straightforward melodies and lyrics, and even more direct acoustic arrangements, which manage to sound thoughtful even if one gets the impression that they were recorded quickly and presented with little touching up.

And while there's nothing as instantly striking as The Letting Go's "Love Comes to Me" or "Cursed Sleep," Lie Down in the Light is a worthwhile effort, its minimalism never as po-faced or as monochromatic as it was on 2003's Master and Everyone. Instead, Oldham is economic with his arrangements as they always seem to hint at more than what's presented without ever giving the impression that something's missing. That doesn't mean the music is plain, either, since "For Every Field There's a Mole" enlists a smoky clarinet for one of the album's moodiest and most memorable passages, and a gentle fiddle complements Oldham's generous melody on the opening number "Easy Does It."

It may feel like it's missing that one knockout track, but Lie Down in the Light feels like the work of an artist completely assured of his abilities and with a singularity of vision, and its consistency throughout will make this a satisfying effort for believers.






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