Bonnie "Prince" Billy, 'Beware' (Drag City)

Critical Mass
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by SPIN Staff

On last year's buoyant and easeful Lie Down in the Light, prolific singer-songwriter Will Oldham was in love and diametrically opposed to the mind-set of his unflinchingly dour 1999 indie-folk classic I See a Darkness (the title track of which was later covered by Johnny Cash). But how could a song about a public blow job not brighten your spirits? Oldham remains mostly untroubled on Beware, accompanied by an array of instruments -- marimba, cornet, banjo, and flute swirl around placid country-tinged ruminations like "You Can't Hurt Me Now." Amid the unsettling drones, windy howls, and sparse notes of "There Is Something I Have to Say," though, one glimpses the darkness once again.

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