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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is King

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy kills Will Oldham and sings his victory songs on forthcoming album.
Oldham in completely normal attire. PHOTO COURTESY FLORENT MAZZOLINI
Image by Ashley Goetz
Oldham in completely normal attire. PHOTO COURTESY FLORENT MAZZOLINI

Bonnie âÄúPrinceâÄù Billy ALBUM: âÄúBewareâÄù LABEL: Drag City In some moonshine-soaked cedar-paneled fantasy America where Doc Watson is president, Iron and Wine have a monopoly on the radio and everyone eats big hearty plates of griddled hotcakes at every meal âÄî Bonnie âÄúPrinceâÄù BillyâÄôs âÄúBewareâÄù would be what couples slow dance to on summer evenings. ItâÄôs the kind of music that could be played at both a wedding and a funeral. Romantic, yet void of sentimentality, this album is happy in its honest depiction of human relationships and empowered by its masterful blend of pop sing-along and folk tradition. Bonnie âÄúPrinceâÄù Billy (Will Oldham) seems to have some things figured out. One of them is how to consistently produce music that strikes a solid balance between new and old. Another is how to write captivating and rootsy Americana folk, which somehow escapes redundancy even after more than 15 years. On top of this, the 38-year-old Kentucky-blooded musician has honed in on a preternatural ability to craft lyrics endowed with a universal honesty, appeal and humor null of cliché. âÄúBeware,âÄù OldhamâÄôs 15th studio album, unsurprisingly continues this trend. The album displays immeasurable talent from a man who will undoubtedly grow into maturity as folk-laureate for the United States. The record begins with the unforgivingly honest, funny and wonderful âÄúBeware Your Only Friend,âÄù a song thatâÄôs first line spells out the tone of the whole album. OldhamâÄôs warbly vocals ring out with, âÄúI want to be your only friend,âÄù but he is then immediately joined by a familiar chorus chanting out in response, âÄúIs that scary?âÄù The song builds up to an appealing, feverishly twangy plateau in the final chorus. This same melding of acute observation, humor and honesty can be heard in the fiddle-laden and upbeat âÄúYou DonâÄôt Love MeâÄù with lyrics like, âÄúYou say you like my eyes only or just the way I giggle/ Sometimes you like the smell of me or how my stomach jiggles.âÄù This lighthearted and prosaic tone continues through the album to the heartfelt âÄúI DonâÄôt Belong to AnyoneâÄù and the borderline spiritual final track âÄúAfraid AinâÄôt Me,âÄù which couples OldhamâÄôs lyrical prowess with flute and a melodic guitar riff that dares to not be tapped along to. Bonnie âÄúPrinceâÄù BillyâÄôs âÄúBewareâÄù is sunny music that works tirelessly from start to finish, shedding light upon its listener. To call Bonnie âÄúPrinceâÄù Billy âÄúroots âÄú music would be a crass oversimplification, yet one cannot think of his music without at least eluding to this genre. His seamless reworking along the spine of folk seems founded as much in the old as it is in the new. âÄúBewareâÄù simply carries on a path that OldhamâÄôs been walking for some time now, one that he seems masterfully attuned to. Chances are, he will continue making good records and chances are, fans will continue listening.

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