A Revival by Any Other Name. Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Governor Hindmarsh. [review]
Bramwell, Murray Ross
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The last time I saw Bonnie “Prince” Billy was at the Tivoli at the beginning of 1998. He was trading under the name of Will Oldham then and, like Will Robinson, another of his aliases, he was a little lost in space. It was a brilliant set, but also exasperating and a little worrying. Oldham huddled at the side of the stage avoiding the spotlight, mumbling to himself, and the band (which included the Dirty Two, Jim White and Mick Turner) looked increasingly perturbed, as though it was turning into a bad night in Roswell. Certainly there are fresh signs of confidence in his recent recordings. Master and Everyone is more sprightly and tuneful than earlier work and he has even caused consternation with the smoothed-over Nashville sound of his Greatest Palace Music re-recordings. It is as though Will Oldham would like some profile - a bit of success and recognition for his singular talent. Fronting a four piece band, featuring his brother Paul on bass and Matt and Spencer Sweeney on guitar and drums, “Prince” Billy is very much in charge as he opens with the rippling guitar chords of Ohio River Boat Song. It has a sweet, spare melancholy, with harmonies from Matt Sweeney and singer Cindy Hopkins blending with Oldham’s artfully expressive off-note vocals.