Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Lie Down in the Light (Cover Artwork)

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: Lie Down in the LightLie Down in the Light (2008)
Drag City

Reviewer Rating: 5

Contributed by: JesseJesse
(others by this writer | submit your own)

To call Lie Down In the Light a folk album would be doing it a great disservice. However, steeped in traditional song forms, it's easy to make the comparison. After 15 years of recording, Will Oldham, now as well-established moniker Bonnie "Prince" Billy, has somehow recaptured the zeitgeist. As boo.
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To call Lie Down In the Light a folk album would be doing it a great disservice. However, steeped in traditional song forms, it's easy to make the comparison. After 15 years of recording, Will Oldham, now as well-established moniker Bonnie "Prince" Billy, has somehow recaptured the zeitgeist. As boomers grow nostalgic for their youth, we're all increasingly looking back to the politics and themes of the late `60s, mirroring the swing America took during the Vietnam conflict. The resurgence of folk music, protest songs and psychedelic music also opened the gate for lesser known music trends: Appalachian bluegrass and Middle Eastern influences. It was a pull towards two contrasting ideals -- a harkening back to a simpler time and an expansive journey into something foreign and exotic. Both options functioned as basic escapism in desperate times. Somewhere, between the two and 40 years later, Lie Down In the Light picks up where they left off.

Utilizing various auxiliary percussion to provide a backbone for most songs, Oldham's guitar picking never strays too far rootsy chord progressions. No matter how traditional Oldham's approach is, his delivery and song craft are always top notch. Key instrumentation -- like the fiddle on opener "Easy Does It" and the prominent jazzy clarinet solo on the country chorded "For Every Field There's a Mole" -- adds miles of depth when paired with Oldham's honest and blunt lyrics. New to the album, however, are the upbeat Middle Eastern rhythms of "(Keep Eye On) Other's Gain" and "Where's the Puzzle?" Oldham lets some tonal quality permeate the former, as well.

As always, the lyrics focus on love, loss, self and exploring the concept of God. The simple honesty of lines like "I know that missing you has just begun / there's years to come" and "For every field there's a mole / with the soil that he stole / and the sightlessness that lets him go free" are perfect examples of why his fans are typically devotional instead of just fanatic. They roll of the tongue with ease, but listening to them being sung creates a weight of emotion.

The modern world as Americans know it is a constant flow and broadcast of information focusing on worldly troubles. Politics and economies are causing externally influenced stress, but the works of Will Oldham cause the listener to be painfully aware of the self. And while the Appalachian bluegrass and Middle Eastern exploration of the late `60s provided escapism for the worried mind, Lie Down In the Light instead forces the listener to be present in his or her own world, and gives them the introspection necessary to survive.


People who liked this also liked:
Indian - Slights and Abuse / The SycophantPretty Boy Thorson & the Falling Angels - Ain't It FunnyBlonde Redhead - 2331 Knots - The Days and Nights of Everything AnywhereOf Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?The Brokedowns - These Colors Don't Run (The Musical)Joe Lally - There to HereThe Shins - Wincing the Night AwayWarren Ellis - Crooked Little Vein [book]The Makai - The End of All You Know

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
NoKeyNoPlan (June 20, 2008)

I listened to this for the first time today and I think I'm disappointed. There's flashes of Will's true brilliance, but some things just fall flat on their face. The last song in particular is pretty horrible.

I hope I just need more time with it.

chrisafi (June 19, 2008)

Yes, because making comparisons between simillar musical themes means I know nothing.

leecorsoisapenis (June 19, 2008)

Thank God there are people who visit punknews who know what the fuck they're talking about. I was going to call out the "even Brand New..." statement but realize I don't have to.

Hopefully Blip is masturbating right now to everybody who thinks he's a troll and a complete noob to music. That's obviously what he wants for not knowing a single thing about what constitutes good music.


chrisafi (June 18, 2008)

The only relation between this and BN is the topic - belief/god e.t.c. no other way whatsoever- all I'm saying is that Brand New, who are held up by many as being fantastic lyrically I think didn't really pull off alot of the belief/religious tones in their music that well and that this album tries and fails much along the same lines

inspection12e (June 18, 2008)


inspection12e (June 18, 2008)

Blip, you're a douchebag. Quit trolling and posting negative comments in records you;re probably never listened to.

One of his better albums

kidgotham (June 18, 2008)

Comparing Brand New to Will Oldham is just wrong. Since when are Brand New considered to be the best songwritters in the world? Did I miss a memo? They're are a good band, but christ, I just don't see the connection.
I have loved some of Will Oldhams output (esp. the self titled Palace Brothers album), so I will probably check this out.

youwinalemon (June 18, 2008)

"even Brand New struggled with it"

Like the old saying goes, if Brand New can't do it, no one can.

I like the Prince and I thought his past couple albums were rather good, but I just wasn't feeling this one. Maybe I need more time with it.

blip (June 17, 2008)

so lame!

chrisafi (June 17, 2008)

concept of god/belief/devotion/whatever

billnye (June 17, 2008)

the lyrics aren't about god.

chrisafi (June 17, 2008)

Ok I still haven't got over the fact this got a 10.

I will now justify myself

Its not like its shit; it's good for what it is, but its middle-of-the-road emotional folk punk acoustic singersongwriter whatever stuff. Themes are pretty bland, not massively accessible or easy to relate to. God is not a good theme, even Brand New struggled with it. The lyrics are pretty good but not inspirational. For a 10 I'd expect to be able to read these lyrics without the music and still be hit by them; that doesn't happen, its all built on hooks and harmony. And thats not necessarily bad thing but this does nothing at all to warrant a 10. At all.

chrisafi (June 17, 2008)



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