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Bonnie “Prince” Billy Best Troubador

Bonnie “Prince” Billy — Best Troubador (May 5, 2017)

    Bonnie “Prince” Billy — Best Troubador (May 5, 2017)
•→   The best known of the many alter egos created by celebrated and idiosyncratic singer and songwriter Will Oldham.
•→   Songwriter Will Oldham’s new project ‘Best Troubador’ shows a fondness for Haggard’s later recordings
Birth name: William Oldham
Born: January 15, 1970
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Album release: May 5, 2017
Record Label: Domino / Drag City / Palace Records
Genre: Folk~Rock, Alternative country
Duration:     59:41
01 The Fugitive     3:31 
02 I’m Always on a Mountain When I Fall     2:45 
03 The Day the Rains Came     3:12 
04 Haggard (Like I’ve Never Been Before)     3:46 
05 I Always Get Lucky with You     3:48 
06 Leonard     3:14 
07 My Old Pal     3:42 
08 Roses in the Winter     3:58 
09 Some of Us Fly     5:06 
10 Wouldn’t That Be Something     3:28 
11 Pray     3:16 
12 That’s the Way Love Goes     3:05 
13 Nobody Lef’s Darling     4:06 
14 What I Hate [Excerpt]     0:21 
15 I Am What I Am     2:40 
16 If I Could Only Fly     4:36
17 Mama Tried (feat. Oscar Parsons)     2:22
Written by:
♦   Casey Anderson / Liz Anderson     1
♦   Chuck Howard     2
♦   Doug Colosio / Merle Haggard     4
♦   Gary Church / Merle Haggard / Freddy Powers / Tex Whitson     5
♦   Merle Haggard     3, 6
♦   Elsie McWilliams / Jimmie Rodgers     7
♦   Freddy Powers     10
♦   Lefty Frizzell / Whitey Shafer     12
♦   Jimmie Davis     13
♦   Blaze Foley     16
♦   Mary Feiock Guest Artist
♦   Emmett Kelly Guest Artist
♦   Nuala Kennedy Flute, Vocals
♦   Danny Kiely Bass, Engineer, Mixing
♦   Joseph McVetty Cover Illustration
♦   Drew Miller Saxophone
♦   Cheyenne Mize Fiddle
♦   Elsa Hanses Oldham Back Cover Photo
♦   Dan Osborn Artwork
♦   Kris Poulin Engineer
♦   AJ Roach Guest Artist
♦   Chris “Roadie” Rodahaffer Banjo, Guitar
♦   Matt Sweeney Guest Artist
♦   Nate Thumas Assistant
♦   Van Campbell Drums
♦   Bob Weston Mastering
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming;  Score: ****
♦   Will Oldham is a superior songwriter and vocalist when he wants to be, but there’s just enough of a willful persona to his work as Bonnie “Prince” Billy and within the Palace rubric that it’s hard to tell when he’s being serious and when he’s pulling his audience’s collective leg, even when his work is good. One of the things that makes Best Troubador something truly special is that, more than nearly all of Oldham’s work to date, he’s playing straight throughout, and for a good reason. The misspelled but sincere honorific of the title refers to Merle Haggard; according to the liner notes, this album was in the works before Hag’s death in April 2016, but when the great man passed, Oldham and his collaborators refashioned it into a tribute album devoted to songs Haggard wrote or sang.
♦   Most of the album was recorded and mixed live, with flute and sax added to the arrangements along with the more traditional guitars, fiddles, and banjos, and the overall effect is certainly idiosyncratic, as one might expect from Oldham; this sounds like a slightly buzzed guitar pull as often as it sounds like a fully focused recording session. But if the tone of these performances is laid~back, they’re also sincere and committed, and as a vocalist BPB has rarely been better. As a songwriter, Oldham clearly appreciates the craft of Haggard’s songwriting, as well as the honest emotional pull of these tunes, and he sings them with a genuine measure of respect and love. And the grainy drawl of Oldham’s voice was made to order for these stories of the ups and downs of life and love, and it’s all but impossible not to be moved by this craggy sincerity and the genuine soul of this music. There are more deep cuts than familiar hits on Best Troubador, but that’s another part of what makes this album so pleasurable; this is a deep dive into Haggard’s body of work as seen through the eyes of Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and Oldham and his crew deliver plenty of reminders why Hag was one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. In his liner notes, Oldham writes, “Hag won’t make more music, but the music he made is deep and rich and complex and forever yielding.”
♦   Best Troubador does a splendid job of showing how right he is about Haggard and his songs, and you’d have to go back to 1994’s splendid multi~artist disc Tulare Dust to hear as sincere and affecting a tribute to this most American of artists.
Ben Beaumont~Thomas, Thursday 4 May 2017 22.30 BST / Score: ****
Will Oldham covers Merle Haggard
♦   Will Oldham’s covers of the Everly Brothers, Bill Withers and even R Kelly are some of the most satisfying curios in his massive catalogue, and he continues here with an album of songs by the late Merle Haggard. Oldham’s reaffirmation of country as a spartan, romantic, existentially troubled music is a trick he perhaps learned from Haggard himself, but he strays further still from country’s core sound, replacing the pedal steel and banjo with flutes, saxophones and acoustic guitar. By doing this, and choosing deep cuts rather than hits like Okie From Muskegee, he universalises a music that is still overlooked by many listeners, and in some cases arguably improves it ~ Haggard (Like I’ve Never Been Before) gives some swing to the stodgy honky~tonk of the original. But Haggard’s songwriting still shines throughout. With one eyebrow audibly raised, he sang of life’s trials in rueful yet stoic ballads, characterised by lines like “for most of my life I’ve almost been a winner”; Oldham beautifully recasts them in his leaf~rustle baritone.   ♦   https://www.theguardian.com/
By Elias Leight
♦   Best Troubador excels when it moves at a snail’s pace. The crawling, waltz~like “Some of Us Fly,” the lagging, stately “Pray,” the juicy, honky~tonk dawdle “Haggard (Like I've Never Been Before)” ~ these are beautiful constructions, the work of an artist secure in his vision. They're also the kind of tribute songs that might embolden listeners to leave behind the outer circle of Haggard~fandom and head toward the inner sanctum. (excerpt)
♦   http://www.rollingstone.com/country/features/bonnie-prince-billy-talks-merle-haggard-tribute-album-w480772
Bandcamp: https://bonnieprincebilly.bandcamp.com/album/best-troubador
Label: http://www.dragcity.com/

Bonnie “Prince” Billy Best Troubador