Bonnie “Prince” Billy, the spectral American-music traveler sometimes known as Will Oldham, has been working hard these past few years, dedicating entire albums to covering other people’s music and collaborating with tons of his peers. Just in the past few weeks, Oldham has made a whole album with the National’s Bryce Dessner and the contemporary classical ensemble Eighth Blackbird — remaking his old songs in new ways — and he’s also been all over singer-songwriter Joan Shelley’s great new album Like The River Loves The Sea. But it’s been many years since Oldham has released an album of his own songs — his own new songs, anyway. That’s about to change.
Later this fall, Bonnie “Prince” Billy will release I Have Made A Place, his first album of new material since 2011’s Wolfroy Goes To Town. Oldham recorded the new album with a band that includes Joan Shelley, Louisville acoustic-guitar wizard Nathan Salsburg, and former Gary Burton Quartet drummer Mike Hyman. And he’s shared “At The Back Of The Pit,” the album’s first single.
On “At The Back Of The Pit,” Oldham sings about his plans for the apocalypse over ruminative jazz horns and loping old-timey country rhythms. He rhymes “kimchee jars” with “Hot Wheels cars,” and he tenderly croons the phrase “here’s cum in your eye.” In the video, Oldham wears cowboy clothes and heavy eyeliner, rides a horse, and gets hung. The members of Oldham’s new band appear in the video — some of them in farm-animal masks — and Jacob Forman directs. Check it out below.
Of the new album, Will Oldham says:
In recent years, the whole world of recorded music, in the way that such music is conceived, perceived, recorded, released and distributed, has been atomized. I tried holding my breath, waiting for the storm to pass, but this storm is here to stay and its devastation is our new landscape. What else is a person to do except what he knows and feels, which for me is making records built out of songs intended for the intimate listening experiences of wonderful strangers who share something spiritually and musically? I started working on these songs thinking that there was no way I was going to finish them and record and release them. This was a constructive frame-of-mind that protected the songs until this frightening moment when we let go of them and give them to you.
I Have Made A Place is out 11/15 on Drag City.