Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy

Rating: Four out of five stars

Down in the Light

Drag City

Although William Oldham has made music under multiple names, he’s always kept a singular vision. Whether releasing music under one of his Palace aliases, his own name or as Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Oldham has been able to craft an extensive, consistent catalogue of Americana-influenced indie rock. Down in the Light is the next step in his evolution from the impassioned, lo-fi troubadour we saw on Days in the Wake to his current reign as indie rock’s alt-country king.

If the light shuffle of “Easy Does It” isn’t proof enough, the warmth of the beautiful “For Every Field There’s A Mole” is a clear indication that Oldham is in a different mood than he was in when making his gloomy masterpiece, I See a Darkness. This is still by no means a party record, but Oldham’s vocals aren’t as haunting as usual, and the slew of Nashville musicians replacing his usual ramshackle instrumentation add a crispness and buoyancy to the record. The duet “So Everyone” ends in a rousing swell of horns and electric piano, and the closer, “I’ll Be Glad,” is a delicate sing-song embellished with church organ and pedal steel.

While this might be Oldham’s most meticulously engineered record, it never comes off as over-produced. These songs sound genuine, and both Oldham and his duet partner Ashley Webber’s vocals are full of life.

Down in the Light is a heartfelt and hopeful album filled with well-crafted songs that should please both old fans and new listeners.

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