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Will Oldham - Songs Of Love And Horror LP
Drag City Records
Fall of 2018 sees the release of a celebrated lyrics archive that has been growing for over 25 years—the words to the songs sung by BONNIE PRINCE BILLY and PALACE MUSIC. The author of the songs is WILL OLDHAM, and the book, to be released by W.W. Norton, is titled Songs of Love and Horror, the same as this album. The songs of Will Oldham have been written most often for the aliases of Palace or Bonny. Their identities, kept necessarily separate from Will’s, has allowed them to bring to the stage the reach needed to project to everyone in the room, to everyone outside the room, to whomever chose to make the audience. The songs were written to create a singular encounter, to be shared among those who choose to listen. Songs of Love and Horror is a rare entry in this oeuvre: a Will Oldham album, with the writer taking a turn as singer. As befits the nature of this project, the songs are sung and played by Will alone, in a setting enjoyed by fans of his music—that of one voice and one guitar, the better to savor the spare changes and starkly-cut lyrics, operating in quiet tension and ultimate collaboration. Will brings to the songs all that he has learned from his stagecrafting fellows over the years, singing new versions that quiver like fresh young things in the air of today.
Starting with such classics as “Ohio River Boat Song,” “I See A Darkness,” and “The Way,” the sequence wanders into deeper cuts, and before it is over, Will is singing other kinds of “greatest hits”—Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Strange Affair,” a Bonny contribution to the Refugee benefit album, “Most People,” and a previously unheard writer’s demo from years ago. This microcosmic revisitation touches on the breadth of Oldham’s musical conception—the songs that came before him, the songs that came out of him, but didn’t make it on to the album, the songs that never came out at all. Will Oldham sings some favorites on Songs of Love and Horror — some of yours, some of his, and some other songs too.
The world keeps on turning, and as it does, it ruthlessly turns away from ages of creation, heaving toward new creations as they come along. In this sense, nothing on the planet is getting any younger, but as it revolves, it becomes continuously newer. Songs of Love and Horror celebrates not one legacy, but rather a confluence of them, flowing in the stream towards an unknown and often unknowing future, with the hope that these notes in a bottle ever pass on through.