Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Beware

Album Review by Paul Mitchell | 04 Mar 2009
  • Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Beware
Album title: Beware
Artist: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Label: Domino
Release date: 16 Mar

I'm not so sure Will Oldham is as 'Bonnie' as his alter-ego might suggest, and the murky habitat of many songs on this album seems to confirm the suspicion. Ominousness abounds in tracks such as Beware Your Only Friend, I Am Goodbye and Death Final. As ever with the 'Prince', there is an opaqueness of expression which mean we can never be sure whether to take him literally. The sparse Without Work, You Have Nothing (one of the highlights of the album, with a foreboding sax line offset by playful strings) is an example. 'Move your hands faster, that's what your man wants… and arms will hold you." Libidinous misogyny or satire of the same - who knows - and this is half the troubadour's charm. But where Beware falls down is in the dispiriting lack of verve it displays in several of the arrangements; Oldham doesn't wear formulaic country well. [Paul Mitchell]