on 28 April 2001
Will Oldham, alias Bonnie Prince Billy, is one of the most diverse rising talents in modern music. This short album portrays something of the artist, in less obscure imagery or entanglement of words than usual.
The first track rings reminiscence of the Byrds 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo', with its gentle country sound. Then the pace picks up a little with 'the southside of the world' To cruise softly down in quiet melody and introspective vision for the rest of the album. The highlight is surely the song 'blue lotus feet' which sort of comes as a complete surprise from this artist whom I wouldn't have thought was so spiritual.
This work is sure hard to rate as it grows with listening. But it is so short that one wonders if the art is actually complete. Like an unfinished sculpture it is all most brilliant.
on 12 February 2008
This 1998 EP collects the "One With The Birds"/"Southside of the World" single (released in the US earlier the same year) and packages them up for the UK market along with five odd covers of traditional Hare Krishna songs. Essentially it is the first thing Will Oldham released under the Bonnie "Prince" Billy moniker (pre-dating his masterpiece "I See A Darkness") and, in short, it is a quite magnificent piece of work and an excellent introduction to his work.
The two lead songs are among the greatest that Oldham has ever penned. "One With The Birds" is almost unspeakably beautiful. It's eerie, evocative, hymnal and (this is just my opinion, now) easily the equal of any song written by, say, Bob Dylan or Neil Young. It's something of a lost classic, inasmuch as Oldham never seems to play it live and it rarely gets a mention when the greatest Bonnie songs are discussed, but it's a quite wondrous tune and if I was ever to compile a cd of my favourite Will Oldham songs this would be right up there with "I See A Darkness" and "You Will Miss Me When I Burn."
The song that follows, "Southside of the World", is just as good. It's astonishing really to think that Oldham could throw songs of this calibre out on a limited-release EP and not even include them on an album. "Southside...", an up-tempo, dark-as-hell country romp, features some stop-you-in-your-tracks, startling lyrics, not least the opening line (I won't spoil it for you, but it's bizarre and unsettling to say the least) and concludes with a compelling crescendo of a chorus. Taken together, the opening two tracks on the EP are totally captivating.
Which brings us to the traditional Hare Krishna tunes that make up the rest of the EP. In all honesty, the first time I heard these I was more than a little disappointed, as they seemed so throwaway, not to mention brief (one is 22 seconds long, another 44). But after living with this EP for a few years I must admit I've grown to love them. I can't say I've ever heard them performed by anyone else but Oldham certainly invests them with an incredible sense of spirituality, accompanied just by acoustic guitar, and his fragile croon has rarely sounded better. It's a measure of the man that he can make a 22 second snippet of a song really quite moving.
In short, this EP is an absolute joy and a must for any fans of Will Oldham's work. A brilliant example of prime period Bonnie "Prince" Billy.
on 2 August 2003
Shoppers of the world, lay down yer plastic, you have nothing to lose but y'r mounting overdrafts.
A good intro to Will Oldham, this blue lotus feet thing here.
Several of the finest, most beautiful hymns I've ever heard coupled with the jolting libidinous sweet/strangeness of 'one with the birds' "spread your olive wings, embrace my head" - beautiful, beautiful.
Shoppers! Borrow it from a library or something, huh?