Monday, August 27, 2012

Great Albums: 46 - The Marble Downs (Trembling Bells and Bonny 'Prince' Billy, 2012)

A friend of mine is fond of saying that you can compile a sensible Worst Ten Hollywood films list without once stepping outside the back catalogue of Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger, and while I'm not so sure of that (any Top 10 with no Braveheart or The Incredibles is nonense, IMO), I am inclined to say that you can create a Ten Great Albums and never leave the ouevre of Mr Will Oldham, in his many and various guises.  Like Bowie, he's going to pop up in this Top 50 more than once...

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

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home