Sings Greatest Palace Music CD – Drag City

Will Oldham has undergone several identity changes over the course of his career. Now he comes face-to-face with one of his past personas and pays tribute to it by re-recording some of his earliest songs under his most recent moniker, Bonnie “Prince” Billy. It seemed like a good idea. Because of his growth as an artist and the natural progressions these songs have undergone over the years, it would seem that these instrumentally sparse indie classics would be given a masterful reworking. Unfortunately, the results are candy-coated and overly countrified. By hiring Nashville session players, Oldham’s solemn hits of old have been reshaped into straight-up country songs. With typical honky-tonk guitar noodlings, upbeat tempo changes and alternate phrasings, Oldham’s album seems to share more similarities with Ween’s 12 Golden Country Greats than the Palace originals. Unlike Ween, however, Oldham probably didn’t mean for it to be funny. While Sings Greatest Palace Music may piss off Palace purists, there are some tracks on the album that outdo their originals. “New Partner,” the opening track and long-time battle cry of mending hearts, is bettered by the addition of layered background vocals that echo throughout the chorus. The album’s standout, though, is the haunting redux of the already chilling “Riding.” With a creepy orchestral arrangement and Bobby Bare Jr. bellowing in the background, this track is what you wished the rest of the album sounded like. (Nolan Gawron)



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