Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - I See a Darkness
(Palace Records, 1999)
To write something meaningful about this album is harder than one would think. Not because there isn't alot to say, but because words became small when you have to explain the kind of feelings you experience when listening to this record. One of my all time favourite records, but not the first I heard by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy or Will Oldham if you will. My introduction to the man and artist were first a few years later, maybe a year after the release of Master and Everyone in 2003. So I first heard him or really listened to him in 2004, but still, when I first discovered this album I was truly lost in it.
First of all, the album contains the song that is Will Oldham's magnus opus, the title track "I See a Darkness". A track close to being perfect, not flawless but perfect. The way his voice cracks. The warm sound and the somewhat dark and cold lyrics. A song you just have to feel. A song you always have to really hear - it deserves that. Fittingly Johnny Cash covered it on his third Rick Rubin produced album, American III: Solitary Man. Background vocals courtesy of Will Oldham himself.
Other favourites on the album are "Nomadic Revery (All Around)", "Death to Everyone", "Today I Was an Evil One" and the album closer "Raining in Darling". The latter may be my favourite of all Will Oldham's songs. Short but uplifting, a perfect way to close an album filled with darkness.
Yes, the album is dark, but never in a way that feels depressing. Not for me anyway. Maybe it is his voice, maybe the warm sound - I don't know. It's not a happy album, but still far from depressing. Well, now I tried to write something about it - but words just won't do.
"O, it don't rain anymore
I go outdoors
Where it's fun to be"
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - "Raining in Darling"