Lie Down In the Light

11 06 2008

The biggest musical surprise of the year for me so far is the release of Lie Down In the Light.  It was a very welcome surprise.  It was one of the handful of albums this year that were rush released without any hype or promotion behind it.  I didn’t know a thing about the album coming out until I read the review on Pitchfork Media…and I’m a huge Bonnie Prince Billy fan.

PFM states Lie Down In the Light “could be the evil twin of the singer/songwriter’s career peak, 1999’s I See a Darkness: If that 90s record plumbed the bleakness of life, Lie Down in the Light finds peace in the modest pleasures of friends, family, and music.”

Ummm….so, if I See A Darkness is about death and Lie Down In the Light is about peace…wouldn’t that make I See a Darkness the evil one?  It DOES, in fact, have songs with titles like “I See a Darkness”, “Death to Everyone” and of course, “Today I Was an Evil One”.  Maybe a better comparison is that I See A Darkness is the Cain to Lie Down In the Light‘s Abel, no?

I’m quickly becoming a big fan of this new album.  I will say that, as much as I love Will Oldham, my favorite album of his is Superwolf (with Matt Sweeney).  Musically and lyrically, I can not get enough.  It is superb.  One of the things that pulls me in about that album is that it came about when Will posed a songwriting challenge to Matt Sweeney.  I really wish I knew the terms of the challenge!!  “Beast for Thee” from that album was #2 on my top songs of 2005, but as the years wear on, it has surpassed the song which made the top spot on that list….”Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine” by Spoon….but barely.

The following lyrics from Lie Down In the Light‘s “For Every Field There’s a Mole” reminds me of a reworking or reinterpretation, of sorts, of the Book of Ecclesiastes (or the Byrds’ “Turn, Turn, Turn” to the layman):

There’s a time to sing these things and a time to have them sung.
A time to bring the tune and a time to have it brung.
There’s a lap for resting head. There’s the only nesting bed.
There’s the souls to cry among, for the things that don’t get sung.
And a hand to hold your throat to stifle that crying choke

A lot of the album has me thinking of Dylan.  I can’t give a specific Dylan album or song.  Maybe it’s just the tone…but some of the lyrics are also reminding me of Dylan at times….as well as the Byrds, as I stated….but that makes total sense, what with Roger McGuinn’s undying love and devotion for Dylan.

But it definitely ranks as one of Will Oldham’s better albums.  If you are new to Will Oldham, I’m not really sure where to suggest you start.  I personally fell in love with Will Oldham when I purchased I See A Darkness solely based on this review from Pitchfork Media.  I read the review and then immediately took my lunch break so I could run to Cheapo and buy the album.  It was one of my greatest musical investments I ever made.

If you can, or if you are feeling ambitious check out I See A Darkness, Superwolf, The Letting Go, & Lie Down In the Light in that order.

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