Bonnie "prince" Billy - Ask Forgiveness
Again, Will Oldham emotionally thumbs through both the Old Testament and the Hank Williams songbook to help him craft a missive on the joys and sorrows of actually living an emotional life. In his music, whether under his own name, as Palace Brothers or in his latest incarnation, Oldham has turned the minor events into myth, or, rather, exposed them for the deeper meanings they do have.
"Ask Forgiveness" is another set of folk-based parables, with sublte rhythmic backing and that shaking, but righteous voice. The hook here is that, beside the gentle "Loving The Street," this is a short set of covers. The highpoints here are Danzig's "Am I A Demon?" (why do Danzig's silly-ass songs reveal so much power when covered acoustically?), Phil Ochs' "My Life" and "World's Greatest" by R. Kelly. While the Ochs may seem a natural for Oldham, in his trembling but brave delivery, even Kelly's tune oozes humanity. Covers of Bjork and Thom Yorke also stack up among the six covers.
When covers are done right, they channel universal emotions from one artist to another, the connection a reminder to the listener that honest expression never gets old. Oldham makes these fairly recent tunes by others sound ancient, their messages familiar to all and able to give even more than they intended.
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