Album Reivew: Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s Wolfroy Goes To Town
December 4th, 2011 • Album Review
Bonnie Prince Billy
Wolfroy Goes to Town
Drag City, October 2011
Every finals “season” brings me an new album to put on repeat for about two weeks straight. It’s a tricky business– the choosing of a whole album that at times acts as non-intrusive background but at other times provides a break from the work, demanding whole concentration on the song. I have been saving Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s Wolfroy Goes to Town just for this time – and the wait was totally worth it.
Anyone dedicated to Will Oldham’s previous works, whether it be as Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Palace Music, Palace Brothers or other more allusive Palace side projects will find solace in Oldham’s newest album. While they’ve been used a hundred times to describe his sound, we must return to words like haunting and minimalist as Oldham has managed to stay true to “his sound” without simply producing a carbon-copy of previous work. Listening to Wolfroy Goes to Town we are reminded of “Ain’t You Wealth, Ain’t You Wise” in “No Match” or “I See A Darkness” in “New Tibet.” Listening to these songs, however, does not make you want to simply retreat into the past and put on Beware or Master and Everyone. Wolroy Goes to Town stands on its own as another work in Oldham’s repertoire, rather than simply the latest installment of interchangeable wintery folk.
The album, rather, is perhaps a caricature of what Oldham knows his audience looks for in his work. It abandons any fullness previously experimented with as it, instead, relies on the more subtle companionship of voice and guitar. The album wants to be listened to on a Maine island cabin in winter without isolation but with enough blankets to feign warmth; there, Wolroy Goes to Town is at home.
An easy album highlight is the shockingly upbeat “Quail and Dumplings.” Maybe it’s the shock factor of a second song on the album with a very noticeable “fuck” in it or maybe we’re just caught off guard by a BPM of more than 49. Regardless, it’s a welcome surprise that surely warrants your eyes to lift from work briefly to gaze and just listen.
While it’s already become my 2011 Finals album, it is sure to endure once the final paper is turned in.
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