First ever live album from Will Oldham and it's rather fine. His six-piece band remake and remodel his back catalogue with some extraordinary results - brother Paul furnishes a bass rumble of weighty oomph and guitarist (and Superwolf collaborator), Matt Sweeney, adds considerable six-sting shimmer to proceedings. For those for whom Oldham's words are all important, the songs retain, as always, starring roles. "Wolf Among Wolves" is sublime, even with the howling. "O Let It Be" wigs out magnificently and "Beast For Thee" maintains its devotional, old testament impact.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a review about Will Oldham that doesn’t contain the word ‘enigmatic’. Certainly, Oldham has a reputation for being grumpy and uncooperative. However, his talent is never in doubt, something reinforced by the release by Drag City of Oldham’s first live album. Whether working as Palace, his own name, or Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Oldham’s albums are never particularly embellished with production trickery, but Summer In The Southeast allows an even greater focus on the songs themselves. Master and Everyone erupts in a way it didn’t when housed on the 2003 album of the same name, while the classic Appalachian sound of Nomadic Revery is enriched by the live recording and the fragility of fatalistic anthem, I See A Darkness, means it almost disappears altogether until its emotional crescendo. And there are yet more changes to mainstays of Oldham’s catalogue, I Send My Love To You gets a full boom-click-boom country makeover. May It Always Be is noisily transformed from the version on 2002’s Ease Down The Road album, while the Celtic folk of Madeleine Mary gets a bluesy makeover. O Let It Be from 1997’s Joya is the album’s one true rock song. But it is the repertoire of love songs that has Oldham at his most tender; the barely-there melody of Beast For Thee is one of the set’s standout moments. Bar some irritating whooping from the typically excitable US audience, of which I dare say Oldham wouldn’t have approved, this is an enjoyable listen from beginning to end.
I'm a huge fan of ;Master and Everyone, but this is an altogether different proposition. Intimate, soothing recordings have suddenly become edgy, fleshed out, guitar based, but no less soulful. Death to Everyone and O Let It Be are just extraordinary. It's rare that I buy an album and it just fits like an old shoe - but this one does. Superb!
I bought this, my first Bonnie Prince Billy album, as a very quick primer to his work before I went to see his last NZ tour show when I was in Auckland on holiday (and he clearly was too, dressed like he had just come off the beach). I was well aware of his critical rep but had not actually heard any of his music. All I can say is that this album is a very excellent entrée to his work for such an occasion and a more than reasonable career summary of his songs. It really well replicates the style of live show that I saw that night (and really enjoyed). It totally captures the somewhat relaxed and chaotic atmosphere of a loud and raucous show in the bars/halls where it was recorded. As such it is a very good live album. Although I now have five or so CDs of his I have found that you have to be somewhat careful about his (prolific) output and do not automatically buy the latest (Wilding in the West is an example - also live but just not very good - yet Is It the Sea?, also live, is very good). Looking forward however to seeing him in Sydney in a couple of weeks.
I saw him on this tour, and on several previous. In previous years, he's performed near accoustic sets that have matched the mood of albums like 'Master & Everone' & 'Superwolf'. Not this tour, not this album. This time it rocked! The sheer control over tempo, power & volume, exuded the class of musicians at the top of their game. The fact he is able to reinvent the same song time again by giving it fresh life is extraordinary. A great recording of a great tour, where fleshed out guitar gave the songs power & passion. Having said that, if you're new to Will (fool!), start with a studio album.
I'm a huge fan of Master and Everyone but this is an altogether different proposition. Intimate, soothing recordings have suddenly become edgy, fleshed out, guitar based, but no less soulful. Death to Everyone" and O Let It Be are just extraordinary. It's rare that I buy an album and it just fits like an old shoe - but this one does. Superb!