Great Albums: 46 - The Marble Downs (Trembling Bells and Bonny 'Prince' Billy, 2012)
This first entry though is his most recent release, in company with Scottish alt-fok band The Trembling Bells. It starts like, well like nothing else you're likely to hear this year. 'I made a date (with an open vein)' sounds like it should be a miserable dirge but instead it starts off with over two minutes of repetitive yet pleasant instrumental layered with Lavinia Blackwell's equally repetitive but wordless vocal, then some drums kicks in and what may be the most unlikely opening lines to a love song ever.
"I made a date with an open vein/And with scarlet matter emblazened your name"The song continues in sinilar vein - brilliantly unexpected lyric, great melody, two excellent voices, clever instrumentation - and in doing so sets the template for the rest of the album. Not every track reaches the heights of the opening song, but a couple - 'Riding' (as bleak as call/response tale of incest and death as Nick Cave ever managed - and, in passing, a far better version of the song than the solo version which appears on the Palace Brothers 'Lost Blues' album ) and 'Ferrari in a Demolition derby' (proving intense can also be funny) are on a par with anything I've heard this year or last, and even the 'weak' songs have lots to recommend them.
Like I said there'll be more Will Oldham (as Bonny 'Prince' Billy, himself or Palace Brothers) to come, but this is worth savouring for now...
Spotify Link to Album
I Made a Date video