Will Oldham has reactivated his Bonnie “Prince” Billy persona for its first album in four years, Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You, which will be released Aug. 11 by Drag City. The lead track, the sparse, acoustic guitar-tinged “Bananas,” features vocals from Dane Waters.
An accompanying video by Ethan Osman “was made without hearing the music. It is not intended to interpret the music, but to interpret prompts requested of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy,” per the on-screen text at its conclusion.
Recorded in Oldham’s hometown of Louisville, Ky., the album features additional contributions from violinist Sara Louise Callaway, keyboardist Kendall Carter, viola/violin player Elisabeth Fuchsia, Dave Howard on mandolin, and saxophonist Drew Miller.
The famously press-averse Oldham has yet to comment on the project, but a message on his Bandcamp page reads, “Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You is a tale as old as time. It’s an album. Its songs and music are by and for people together. For listening together. Before it gets too late. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy stands at the nexus of all the kinds of music he can summon, with friends, with family and community. All roads roll though him. There can be no holding back. A million billion moments are on the line. He’s gonna tell us about a world…”
The last Bonnie “Prince” Billy album was 2019’s I Made a Place. Since then, Oldham has released a collaborative album with Smog’s Bill Callahan, Blind Date Party, and re-teamed with Chavez’s Matt Sweeney for the first Superwolves album in 16 years.
Some editions of the upcoming album will be available with an extra CD or cassette of “material grown from the same garden plot as Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You.”
Oldham has tour dates booked throughout the summer in fall, including runs with Faun Fables, Myriam Gendron, and Laurel Premo. He will also play the fifth anniversary party for beloved Kingston, N.Y., venue Tubby’s on Sept. 29, as part of a lineup also featuring Codeine, Bitchin Bajas, 75 Dollar Bill, and Bush Tetras.
Here is the track list for Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You:
“Like It or Not”
“Behold! Or Be Held!”
“Blood of the Wien”
“Sing Them Down Together”
“Kentucky Is Water”
“Willow, Pine and Oak”
“Tree of Hell”
“Rise And Rule (She Was Born in Honolulu)”
“Queens of Sorrow”
“Crazy Blue Bells”
“Good Morning, Popocatépetl”