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Bonnie Prince Billy

Lie Down in the Light (Drag City)

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When Will Oldham began making records in the '90s, using various Palace monikers, he was a distant soul. His voice sounded desperate, like he was reaching out from a cold, stark place, with little more than his guitar as a companion. He's advanced a bit since then. On his latest album, Lie Down in the Light, Oldham's inner voice remains intact. Recording under his Bonnie Prince Billy alias, Oldham sounds comfortable within the warm, rich environment — which comes with horns and a singing partner, Ashley Webber, this time around. But these new ornaments don't polish Lie Down in the Light; they merely add color. The clarinet that sneaks into "For Every Field There's a Mole" provides little curlicues of tone to an otherwise simple song. On "You Want That Picture," big guitar gestures and subtle harmonies recall Oldham's earlier high-lonesome angst. He remains a storyteller — quite possibly, a more direct one. But he's still a curious character, shifting his place in music, between the now and the then. — Chris Toenes

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