Bonnie "Prince" Billy Ask Forgiveness

Bonnie "Prince" Billy Ask Forgiveness
Popping up in weird places lately, Will Oldham pauses to appreciate artists with voices as distinctive as his own. Daring people with oddness, Oldham has recently appeared in a Kanye West video (of sorts) and as a cop in a chapter of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet. Such instances follow a Mariah Carey cover and his frank rhapsodies about Madonna and Nelly Furtado. On Ask Forgiveness, he walks boldly over ground for a covers record with more power and cohesion than his 2005 Tortoise collaboration. Here, Oldham plays a crooner, re-contextualising idiosyncratic singers to suit his impassioned delivery. Mickey Newbury’s "I Came Here to Hear the Music” is given a gentle lilt, while Björk’s "I’ve Seen it All” is drained of glitches for a troubadour on a harrowing road. Like Johnny Cash, Oldham reduces a Glenn Danzig song to its essentials, rendering "Am I Demon” solemnly but with great force. In a way, Oldham and Merle Haggard share complementary voices and outlaw stances, such that "The Way I Am” works well. Other than the jaunty original "I’m Loving the Street,” the highlight is Oldham’s forlorn yet bright take on Kelly’s "The World’s Greatest,” whose affirming optimism is familiar within Bonnie ‘Prince” Billy’s oeuvre, exemplifying the mood of Ask Forgiveness. (Drag City)