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Bonnie “Prince” Billy 

The Letting Go

Bonnie “Prince” Billy
The Letting Go
(Drag City)
After a couple of clunkers—Sings Greatest Palace Music and Summer in the Southeast—from Americana wunderkind Will Oldham (AKA Bonnie “Prince” Billy/Palace Music/Palace Brothers/Palace Songs/Palace), it seemed cracks were beginning to appear in the facade of what has been an amazing and prolific career thus far. On his 15th full-length release (or 20th, if you include side projects as well) Oldham has released what has to be one of his finest records yet. After changing direction from minimal lo-fi releases to huge band affairs, Bonnie “Prince” Billy strips down the sound again. But that’s not say that the old-timey sound of the Palace Brothers is back—The Letting Go is a departure from the usual Oldham sound, since it has major harmony contributions from Dawn McCarthy and tracks such as “Cursed Sleep.” This album shows off a whole new ideology for Oldham, featuring a string arrangement that could have been on Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left. The influence of Icelandic producer Valgeir Sigurosson may have had a part in this change. The lyrics are still dark and full of American southern gothic, but Oldham’s voice has never sounded stronger nor the music as powerful. The Letting Go could be the contender to knock out 2003’s Master and Everyone as Oldham’s finest moment.
—Trevor MacLaren 

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