Bonnie “Prince” Billy

11/09/2005 12:00 AM |

Arguably, there are two kinds of people in this world. There are those who think there are two kinds of people in this world, and those who know better. Suffice it to say, the latter group should be listening to Bonnie “Prince” Billy, aka Will Oldham. And his latest release, Summer in the Southeast, proves this. This, his first live disc, also features Matt Sweeney (please see the notable rendition of ‘Beast For Thee’), and a rotating cast of others. For novices, this live recording could be confusing, as Oldham’s quirky vocals and general miscues might suggest a lack of practice, leading some to separate him from more polished (although not necessarily better) musicians, and will write this album off posthaste. But for the devoted fan, upon each listen, these live recordings reveal never-before-heard layers and textures. Oldham’s initial stripped-down, poetic recordings are one thing (indeed, I’ve spent many a late night with those myself), but here the songs swell with a transformative energy, particularly the ones off the album I See a Darkness, which are practically celebratory, complete with hootin’ and hollerin’ — an amusing take on music that has provoked the deepest of introspective thoughts. This is what Oldham has always done best, and why his fans love him so much. And for those of us who haven’t been privy to seeing him live, this album really is the next best thing.