A1 Beware Your Only Friend (4:02)
A2 You Can't Hurt Me Now (3:43)
A3 My Life's Work (3:54)
A4 Death Final (3:02)
A5 Heart's Arms (3:27)
A6 You Don't Love Me (3:10)
A7 You Are Lost (2:55)
B1 I Won't Ask Again (4:26)
B2 I Don't Belong To Anyone (3:16)
B3 There Is Something I Have To Say (3:20)
B4 I Am Goodbye (2:21)
B5 Without Work, You Have Nothing (3:45)
B6 Afraid Ain't Me (4:49)
I never gave much credence to the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy as his generation's Bob Dylan theory, but now I'm not so sure. Is this Will Oldham's Nashville Skyline?
Well... yes and no. No because Will has been here before, with the Greatest Palace Music project, and to some extent with last year's Lie Down In The Light. Bob's album was an unexpected shift in style, even down to his vocal delivery. Insofar as you can expect anything from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Beware has a feeling of inevitability about it. This is certainly no departure.
No because Nashville Skyline was very short, even by standards of the time, coming in at 27 minutes. Beware feels flabby, even for a single LP, and could have done to have been shortened. Putting a track titled I Am Goodbye as track 11 of 13 makes the two that follow appear redundant, even if, behind the stylings, they are as good as any of the other material on show.
And no because Bob's album was a commercial success. Even in what passes for charts these days, I don't think we'll see anything from Beware up there, or on national radio playlists.
But on the other hand, yes, it is. There are songs on the themes of love, loss and betrayal, and instead of those songs feeling particular to the artist, they feel generic and could be by almost anybody. Both albums are immersed in the 'modern' country sound of their times, but come complete with genre clichés. The song structures are more simplistic than those in their respective back catalogues. And see below for the critical mixed reaction to Beware that Nashville also enjoyed.
I don't know. Is it even important? I wouldn't be that bothered if the album hadn't been built up so much. Will Oldham seems happier to do promotional work for this one, and I'm not going to hold it against him, but I also have a rule that the quality of a film is inversely-proportional to the number of bus shelters you see with adverts for it on.
I want to like it more than I do, at the moment. This seems to be my cop-out for everything new at the moment. I strongly suspect though, that I won't be coming back to this particular Will Oldham release much in future. I've dug around in it, and have found little of nutritious value.
Having bought this through Domino I was annoyed to find out about the four-track Chijimi EP with "Ultraload" MP3s of the Beware album, that only seems to have got a US release. My annoyance chiefly being in the redundancy of the MP3s which will, I'm sure, not be reflected in the price you pay for the 10".
By all accounts the four exclusive EP tracks are excellent, and I'm sure the resourceful will find a way of downloading them from somewhere. For my part, I'm keeping an eye on Ebay, and if I get a copy, a review will surely follow.
A considered review from a commentator I am not familiar with: http://sisforawesome.com/andres/?p=164
A 2004 interview: http://www.stylusmagazine.com/articles/weekly_article/bonnie-prince-billy-the-stylus-interview-series.htm I have only recently come across.
A recent live review, which mentions Desire as opposed to Nashville Skyline: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/culture/music/live/bonnie_prince_billy
Popmatters are harsh, but I find myself thinking on similar lines: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/71327-bonnie-prince-billy-beware/
As are Dusted: http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/4862
Here's a review of a great Bonnie album by me.
And my review of his latest split single with Young Widows is here, which is much more interesting.