Album: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Lie Down in the Light (Domino)

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The Independent Culture

Since the last truly great Bonnie "Prince" Billy album, 2003's masterful Master & Everyone, Will Oldham has mostly amused himself with various stopgap exercises, including a live album, a re-recorded "hits" album and a covers album.

But despite returning to his most fertile ground of sex, sin and religion, he's no nearer equalling previous solo heights with Lie Down in the Light. Following his experiment with Dawn McCarthy on 2006's The Letting Go, Oldham acquires a new duet partner here in the form of Ashley Webber, their voices put to most compelling use in "You Want That Picture".

It's an album of typically antique attitudes: the insular value of family and friends ("Easy Does It" and "Other's Gain"), the insignificance of humanity in the face of natural power (the title-track and "Willow Trees Bend"), and the repeated motif of people as songs ("Glory Goes" and "Where is the Puzzle"), all delivered to a rustic backdrop of whiskery fiddle, guitar, and the occasional glint of pedal steel or tinkle of barroom piano.

Pick of the album:'You Want That Picture', 'Easy Does It', 'Glory Goes'