Master and Everyone
Will Oldham has recorded under various aliases over the years — Palace Brothers, Music, Songs… his own name, and as Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Despite the subtle stylistic shifts, in the end it comes down to Oldham's shaky, puzzling voice and his elliptical, often obscure lyrics. His music isn't for everyone, but for those who inherently understand its majestic power or are seduced by its mystery, there is much to recommend. Master and Everyone is one of Oldham's most focused efforts, incredibly quiet and intimate, full of squeaks, foot taps, and whispers of love's beauty and sad failures. "The Way" sets the tone with acoustic guitar and cello chasing a fragile lead vocal and a haunting backing vocal with the simple plea, "Love me the way I love you." "Ain't You Wealthy, Ain't You Wise," the title track, "Wolf Among Wolves," and "Joy and Jubilee" are simple, unadorned, gorgeous folk-draped melodies that while suggesting an age-old romantic tradition are timeless in their simplicity. Like any great album, the surprises keep coming, as "Even If Love" and "Hard Life" fill out the album with songs every bit as unflagging and intense as their predecessors. A career high-point.