Bonnie 'Prince' Billy looks back and moves forward on Now Here's My Plan
Sometimes looking back can help chart a course for a better future.
With the above thought in mind, welcome back readers. The Underground took a little break to celebrate the July 4 holiday (by working, of all things). But now this blog is back. And it’s back with a post about an artist who took a couple of steps backward to create his newest release.
According to press materials for his new EP Now Here’s My Plan(due out July 24), Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (aka Will Oldham) “circles back to six of his tunes, plucked from such notable years as 2009, 2005, 1996, 2001, 2003 and 1998.” Rerecording each track with his crack band featuring Ben Boye, Van Campbell, Emmett Kelly, Danny Kiely and Angel Olsen, Bonny crafts a new take on material that often sounds timeless.
Part of the credit for this refreshing reboot should belong to engineer Steve Albini, whose no-bullshit approach can be felt in the pounding drums of the rocking update of “I See a Darkness,” as well as the playful shuffle of album-opener “I Don’t Belong to Anyone.”
Watch “I See a Darkness” the first video from the Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy EP “Now Here's My Plan” here:
However, perhaps the grandest rebirth on Now Here’s My Plan is the finale “Three Questions.” Originally appearing on the 2003 release Master and Everyone, the song no longer features a brief accordion coda or Bonny’s double-tracked vocals. Yet, despite these cuts, the tune is all the better for it.
True, the accordion is still there. But the instrument remains hushed in the background, while Angel Olsen contributes vocals and transforms the track into a haunting duet. Instead of a man talking to himself, listeners are now treated to two lovers wrapped in an intimate dialogue that feels all the more devastating when it suddenly ends after the lines, “He’s innocent in God’s eyes / And in mine he is the best.”
Maybe Bonny should dip into his back catalogue more often. And rumor has it he plans to, by reissuing six early records starting this summer with the Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy debut I See a Darkness.