Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & The Cairo Gang, 'The Wonder Show of the World' (Drag City)

The Wonder Show of the World
Critical Mass
Label: Drag City

by SPIN Staff

It's fitting for singer/songwriter Will Oldham to collaborate with young Chicago guitar whiz Emmett Kelly. Both are intimate with folk forms lodged in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Emerald Isles and hide solo work under pluralities: Oldham has recorded as Palace Brothers while Cairo Gang is merely Kelly. After the instrumental overcrowding of last year's Bonnie "Prince" album Beware, Oldham and Kelly (along with multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily) strip the sound naked, even removing the hooks. Neil Young and David Crosby get channeled (via the sparse "Teach Me to Bear You" and the eerie harmonies of "Someone Coming Through," respectively), but those hippies would never plainspeak of "the smell of your box on my moustache," as Oldham does on quietly risque centerpiece "That's What Our Love Is."

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