Album Review // Bonnie Prince Billy // Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You
Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) as Palace back in mid-'90s was a pensive, innocent experience. So earnest, leaving one feeling suspect. Most don't enjoy feeling exposed then being made a fool. Yet Oldham proves himself a friend not foe, by transcending his peers over the decades. With this release, we find Oldham as Bonnie Prince Billy again. Keeping Secrets lays feelings bare, exposes thoughts we don't discuss, even with closest friends. These songs could have been learned from a grandmother over a washtub or overheard from an open tavern window hundreds of years ago. His delivery benefits from his experience as an actor — each track manifests its own personality. These songs, his lineage, will one day be carved into the American songbook. Imagine "Crazy Blue Bells" being recorded by Alan Lomax on a front porch at twilight. "Willow, Pine & Oak" functions as a mnemonic device for daily interactions. "Queens of Sorrow" should be a hymn taught to school children. Songs like "Like It or Not" and "Behold! Be held!" settle into the other side of our midlife crises with an acceptance and a certain calm in their knowing. Will Oldham has aged well.