My 50 Favorite Albums of 2008: #08

Number 08

It’s been widely stated that the moniker-shifting songwriter, Will Oldham, hit his high point with the 1999 release, I See A Darkness; which was a pure classic that was delivered under the name Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. That album was such a thing of beautiful gloom that you’d think it would’ve had enough in it to ignite a following career that would give the artist a wide open avenue of new, possibly even lucrative avenues. Yes, it’s true that there is no arguing that it was and still remains Oldham’s most incredible of albums, but in the nine years since he saw a Darkness, there has been little to no due recognition on the commercial end for this unbelievably hard-working individual, who remains one of the true mavericks in today’s world of music. Throughout this entire decade he has consistently made his mark across a number of fascinating full-lengths, EP’s, film scores, compilations, and plenty of guest appearances on his peers recordings, all over the place. He has even acted in a handful of films, most notably the terrific starring performance in Kelly Reichardt’s, Old Joy. The point I’m trying to make is that the extremely overdue respect that I can only assume will one day come to Oldham, has not came; even with the release of yet another amazing set of songs, titled Lie Down in the Light, which is arguably his best work since Darkness.

Nearly a full decade since being immersed in a dark cave with minor places and nomadic reveries all around, Oldham is a little older, a little wiser, and has traveled far and wide to discover that he is a completely new man, which “Easy Does It” makes abundantly clear right away. There’s always a certian level of despair to the words in his songs, and usually in his music, but there is such an amazingly big difference on Lie Down in the Light than in his past work, first and foremost being the shining sense of gratefulness and optimism that is the record’s ammunition throughout. On “Missing One”, he turns the tables on handling the loss of a loved one by not dwelling on their absence, but using what was taught by that individual to live a better life, thus showing them they did indeed make an impenetrable impact. There is a cheerful aura around this entire thing, especially on pieces like “For Every Field There’s A Mole”, which boasts heavenly harmonies that are accompanied by the tune of a welcomed clarinet. The album was spontaneously introduced that it would be released in a week or so’s time back in May, leaving nothing in the way of press or advertisement. Still, those of us who are devoted fans would be there immediately, it will just take the rest of the world some time…maybe even years, or decades to understand the importance of Will Oldham. Of course, I’m probably missing the point here: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy couldn’t care one way or the other if he was recognized or not, he’s just proud to Lie Down in the Light, and bask in this wonderful world that allows him to have a voice, some good friends, and instruments.

1.Easy Does It
2.The Glory Goes
3.So Everyone
4.For Every Field There’s A Mole
5.Other’s Gain
6.You Want That Picture
7.Missing One
8.What’s Missing Is
9.Where is the Puzzle
10.Lie Down in the Light
11.Willow Trees Bend
12.I’ll Be Glad

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