[113] Bonnie “Prince” Billy – I See A Darkness

5 Jun

Unexpectedly sweet and haunting, I See A Darkness is a small quiet gem hidden in the weeds and wreckage of the late 90s music scene – cool, calm, contemplative.

AKA Will Oldham

AKA Will Oldham

Everything about this should turn me off – the artist recording under multiple names, the ugly and offputting album cover, even the era it comes from.  I had very definite opinions on the music of this era, had pinned my flag quite vocally and visibly to the glam scene that was all but eradicated by the rise of grunge and later of whiny, 20-something singer-songwriters.

While I See A Darkness clearly falls into this second category, it somehow catches me just right.  Almost against my will the gentle melodies soothe some of the bitterness I am still carrying almost two decades later, and the healing – perhaps – can begin.

There are hints of REM in the harmonies, an authentic Folk twang in the vocals, even an early Counting Crows whine at the top of Oldham’s vocal range, but despite the apparently explicit influences the result is something clean and new.

Each time the album ends, the silence lingers longer than expected, and when I suddenly realize I have been without music for a time, my instict again and again is to press play once more on this strange but alluring set.

There is a comfort here, made bizzare by the subject matter of songs with titles like “Another Day Full Of Dread”, “Death To Everyone”, “Today I Was An Evil One” and the relentlessly catchy title track.

I See A Darkness is never going to get me singing along, let alone dancing around a room, but it has a place in my collection.  It deserves the opportunity to join yours.

Next Week:  Boogie Down Productions – By All Means Necessary

Owned before blogging? No. (10 of 113 = 9%)
Heard before blogging? No. (17 of 113 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (93 of 113 = 82%)

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