Music

Warm Coca-Cola through a straw
photo: Baby Leg
Warm Coca-Cola through a straw

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Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Sings Greatest Palace Music
Drag City

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Will Oldham is: Palace, Palace Music, Palace Songs, Palace Brothers, Will Oldham, and Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Bonnie "Prince" Billy Sings Greatest Palace Musicis: Will Oldham singing his own songs, but with several coats of shellac and considerably less yelping. At its scrappiest, Palace Music's shambling country-rock threatens total dissolution—listening feels like curling into the front seat of a careening jalopy, head stuffed between two wobbling knees, eyes peeking out just in time to catch all four wheels shooting straight off. Sings Greatest Palace Music is more like being strapped tightly into the vinyl backseat of a 1978 Cadillac, listening to AM radio pipe up through the floor speakers, and drinking warm Coca-Cola through a straw. Oldham bravely eschews his trademark histrionics in favor of borderline croons, tampering with melodies, folding in players (see saxophones, fiddles, pedal steel), and buffing it all to a soft golden glow. Some tracks sound better, while others make us miss Palace lurching (the freshly hee-hawed "Ohio River Boat Song"). Oldham's backers here formally trump most Palace lineups; he not only snatched the Singsconcept from Nashville, he also dutifully employed some of the city's best session players (including the legendary "Pig" Robbins) to lead it to lustrous fruition.

 
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