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on 10 April 2009
I came late to Will Oldham, but 'I See A Darkness' is a near perfect collection of acoustic singer-songwriting. It starts with the gentle nod of 'A Minor Place' which recalls the Decemberists' literacy and Neutral Milk Hotel's pronounced sense of atmosphere and place. This opening is relatively upbeat. From then on in, his gentle, forlorn tales of love, and more commonly loss, make contemporaries Iron & Wine sound playful, newcomer Bon Iver sociable.

There is an awkwardness to the spotlight, but one that is compensated for in the virtually unparalleled beauty of Oldham's craft. This is a condensing of Neil Young and Nick Drake. 'Today I Was An Evil One' allows the country influences to shine, 'Knockturne' and album closer 'Raining In Darling' are piano-led ballads to rival those of Nick Cave. But it is the title track that steals the show, an unplugged prophecy of doom of breath-taking and tear-jerking beauty equivalent to, if not surpassing, Jeff Buckley's 'Hallelujah'.

As close to perfection as is possible for the genre.
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on 20 July 2017
This album is destined to become one of my favourites.On first listen it just floated over my head, then after a few more listens the beauty of it creeps in.Best listened to late night, dimmed lights, and a few beers.Play this then follow with "Ease down the road" for a couple of hours of beautiful music
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on 13 May 2017
Inventive, relaxed yet thought provoking, perhaps my favourite artist and sadly he doesn't get the exposure he deserves
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on 20 June 2016
A fragile masterpiece by a master of his craft.
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on 25 November 2015
Bit of a mix, some average tracks and some fantastic tracks, the song writing is fantastic, and reaches deep inside of you.
Some real nice stripped back songs, which is very enjoyable.
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on 25 March 2013
I consider this to be a fantastic piece of work, beautifully recorded and played. One of Will Oldham's most accomplished works, In my opinion.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 February 2013
I bought this album because I had heard (and loved) Johnny Cash's version of the title track. Up until listening to this I had hardly ever heard of Bonny Prince Billy, now I am an avid fan and determined to listen to his entire back catalogue.

I can't help but review this via comparison to the Cash cover of `I See a Darkness'. I loved the song for its intense imagery and the intense, forceful and powerful delivery from Cash. The original is delivered by Prince Billy in a much more understated fashion, with a sparse backing. But it has an amazing amount of power for all that, far more so than the more bombastic Cash cover (which I still love). In keeping it simple and being understated the power of the words really comes through. It's beautiful.

From the opening bars of A Minor place through to the closing hi-hat shuffle of Raining in Darling, this is an album of beauty, with Prince Billy leading us through his dark, tortured world with a note of hope and resilience. It's a series of gentle Americana style songs, all with his understated delivery and production that allows us to immerse in his lyrics and imagery.

A perfect album. 5 stars.
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on 21 June 2013
What a beautiful, somehow weird, collection of songs this is! I won't talk about the obvious depth of the lyrics or individual songs: it's all about Bonnie Prince Billy, his cracked voice and his musical poetry. Either the listener vibrates at the same frequency (and it's love), or he doesn't (and the songs, I assume, remain unbearable). In my case it was not a "coup de foudre", but I felt that there was something more and insisted with repeated listenings. Got my reward.
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on 2 March 2007
Where does the newcomer begin with the multi-faceted and multi-named world of Will Oldham? I decided to take the plunge with `I See A Darkness' and I was mighty glad that I did.

This is a tremendous CD from start to finish. The organ-driven opener,`A Minor Place', is one of those glorious tracks that you love on first listen but you never tire of with repeated hearings. Although the rest of the CD takes a little longer to get into, the quality does not dip throughout. The musical style is firmly alt-country, mostly keyboards and acoustic guitars, with a touch of electric here and there, most notably on `Song For the New Breed' where David Pajo takes the lead.

Oldham's voice is hardly strong in the conventional sense, but his slightly broken, quavering tones lend a real sense of emotional depth to his darkly skewed lyrical vision.

But the greatest thing about `I See A Darkness' is the melodic strength of the songs which is superb throughout. The songs get into your brain and don't let go. Make this CD part of your life, but be warned, you may find yourself singing some choice lines out loud at inappropriate moments: `The scars of last year's storm/rest like maggots on my arm' might not be appreciated in the office!
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on 29 February 2012
Johnny Cash himself declared this album thoroughly depressing. If you don't take Cash's word for it, take mine: this album will drive you insane; but in a good way.
You see, these songs are not your average, run-of-the-mill sad songs about break-ups and hardships. This album is the last thing you hear before the Apocalypse. The minute you find out about those giant meteorites heading towards Earth, you decide to visit your favorite watering hole and engage in the kind of introspective soul-searching that ultimately leads to mental breakdown. That's "I See A Darkness" in a nutshell.

The first track, "A Minor Place", might seem uplifting and comforting, but that's just the denial. It all goes downhill from there. You can see it in the song titles: "I See a Darkness", "Another Day Full of Dread", "Death To Everyone", "Today I Was An Evil One"...I'd say Will Oldham has some high-level inner demons.

All in all, it's a classic album for dark days. What's not to like?
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