Is it safe to say that Will Oldham has rarely met a recording device he didn’t like? The man who goes by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy continues to document feverishly--and yet with fine discrimination--via a steady march through the canon of modern music: rock, country, gospel, keep on listing...
The great Leon Russell’s “Hummingbird” bookends this digital EP, and Bonny and his assembled cast of LA musicians render it an exercise in contrast. Using Russell’s famed Shelter Records soundboard for this one-off session--with its memories of Petty and Cale, and now owned by one Jonathan Wilson--Bonny introduces a pallet of musical soundscapes including the keys of "Farmer" Dave Scher, the porch-stomp grooves of Entrance Band rhythm section Paz and Derek and the claps of a thousand hands before letting the song "fly away" in a breeze of soulful psychedelia that stretches nearly twice the original’s length.
Next up: a cover of the traditional “Tribulations,” with Cairo Gang mainman Emmett Kelly, in a purely Appalachian reflection on judgment and fear and all manner of Old Testament threat.
Rounding out this EP, Bonny and band make a run at country master Merle Haggard's "Because of Your Eyes". As always, Oldham’s soulfully solemn voice comes to the fore in this spare arrangement. The bottom line is utter beauty. This version of "Because of Your Eyes" is only available on the inaugural (and very limited) Spiritual Pajamas Records 7 inch release, AKA Spiritual 000 which means, perhaps, that it really does not even exist...or does it? You have to ask those who were lucky enough to get one but they will never tell. Bonny fans know the rules.