Bonnie “Prince” Billy, “Pond Scum”

BonniePrinceBilly_2016_PondScumBonnie “Prince” Billy
Pond Scum
DRAG CITY
7/10

In an interview on Soft Focus, Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy) relayed a tale of his own death via car crash. That he was present on Soft Focus, describing the crash to VICE’s Ian Svenonius, didn’t wrinkle his story. The world, including you, is Oldham’s imagining. If Will Oldham didn’t cover Prince’s “The Cross,” included here on his new full-length collection of Peel Session performances Pond Scum, the original might not even exist. His version of the song included here—desperate, lilting, and slightly unhinged—sounds exactly like any other song included on the album. That Prince’s composition fits into his distinct oeuvre isn’t Oldham’s way of showing off; this is Oldham saying he might as well have written it himself. Pond Scum’s bare aesthetic sounds a bit like Oldham wandered in front of a microphone at the BBC studios. The album doesn’t serve to further his artistic sensibility; rather it’s mere evidence of his existence at a point in time, proof of life for an artist who may or may not be dead.

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