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Bonnie 'Prince' Billy/Matt Sweeney | Superwolf (Drag City/Domino)
Will Oldham has always appeared as a lover of concepts. From 'I See A Darkness' to Palace Brothers releases citing themselves as soundtracks, the abstract often provides the basis of Oldham's brand of country-noir. For 'Superwolf', Oldham asked friend Matt Sweeney to write music for a series of lyrics he had accumulated. Having played together for some years, they stepped to the studio to cement semi-exchanged visions. There's a strong coherency present in this release, showing they obviously share certain outlooks and enthusiasms.

My Home Is The Sea is a simple, affecting song of escapism, starting quietly it switches into dazzling country guitars and feel good melodies before calming into its titular chorus line. Its ultimate sense of resignation is at once touching and heavily dusted with sadness.

Sadness seems to lie throughout the album, the next track Beast For Thee is gentle in approach, yet declares a willingness to bend the laws of morality for the chosen subject of affection. Oppositely, Goat & Ram, is dark, hypnotic and claustrophobic, a love so devout it blankets, expressed by heavy harmonies that burst out in almost garish enthusiasm.

There's always been something unsettling about Oldham's music, a lightness of touch seems to bring hope in his songs - occasional breakdowns where his vocals soar to simple guitar - but in reality there is no hope, merely the flittering of possibilities as he ponders his existence. Lift Us Up grants him his regular deliberation of religion, and provides us with his most certain statement yet as he begs to be taken, surrounded by guitar fanfares.

On 'Superwolf', it seems Oldham has found someone who can help him fully realise his disparate thoughts as they play so delicately between love and hate.

Jonathan Falcone
February-April 2005

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