Bonnie "Prince" Billy's oeuvre is riddled with ambiguity and emotional confusion, and The Letting Go is no exception: love songs incorporate terms of fear and hate, and death is discussed with a discomfiting, almost jaunty, amiability. "When the numbers get too high/ Of the dead flying through the sky/ Oh, I don't know why/ Love comes to me," he sings in the opening "Love Comes To Me", and it's impossible to tell whether he's being spiteful, or happily haunted. The lines "In the quiet of the day, well, I laid her low/ And used her skin as my skin, to go out in the snow" could refer to sex or murder. Mistrust, alienation, contempt, obsession - these are the staples of his work, but swaddled in melodies and arrangements whose sweetness masks their impact. The effect is heightened here by the constant presence of a second singer, Dawn McCarthy, whose pure, stern tone contrasts with his weatherbeaten husk of a voice; and by the often baleful string arrangements that shroud the songs - particularly effective on "The Seedling", where two disparate arrangements are combined to nightmarish effect.
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