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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Retrograde Reviews: Bonnie Prince Billy & Bitchin' Bajas

"Nature, makes us, for ourselves".

The music on Bonnie Prince Billy's latest rustic folk outing starts melodically enough, before embracing woodwind and the suitably gentile lines "may life throw you a pleasant curve". It's on the second track that the rhythmic focus really kicks into gear, loosening the weight of a breathy introduction. "Nature, makes us, for ourselves".

You see, with a track title aim to be storyteliing meets self-help-provoking, this album can be taken kindly to from the first listen. The meanings spread out like fireflies, meeting a warming destination, a natural concave. Bonnie Prince is ast as the governor of a hundred baritones; instruments serve his plans to assist us in becoming calmer, getting happier.

Much of the sound palette is pure rustic folk, a Johnny Cash meets Joanna Newsome quirkiness abounds throughout. There are no female vocals though, only a journeyman's horn of plenty with guitar chops to match. I first heard about BPB, not so humbly around 10 years ago, so I know he's been about the field for a long time. But at the same time, it's as if he's trod a heavy path through folk and country, meaning he understands how to not complicate a tune.

This is most evident on euphoric closing piece "Your Hard Work Is About To Pay Off. Keep On Keeping On". Incidentally the ending is abrupt, leaving the listener craving a second shot of the honey-whiskeyed atmosphere Bitchin Bajas and Billy create. That's how the record feels essentially, like whisky. It's so addictive I can drown in it, but for the luck of the draw, it's only my sorrows that are cleansed.

Mick R. Buckingham

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