Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Cursed Sleep [EP]

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AllMusic Review by

The Cursed Sleep EP is yet another missive from the seemingly always busy Bonnie "Prince" Billy entertainment camp. For all the records Will Oldham releases, you know he's gotta have a ton in the can as well. The title track is from his album slated for September 2006 release. Acoustic and electric guitars (Oldham and Emmett Kelly), bass (Paul Oldham), a skittering drum kit (Jim White), and gorgeous strings usher it in. Oldham digs into his poetic bag of imagery; it's full of memory, obsession, loss, and a grief bordering on gothic horror. The strings between the sung verses are remarkably effective as Oldham slithers and slips along his lines, with help from Dawn McCarthy on backing vocals, all adding up to a song with drama, tension, and authority. "Signifying Wolf" is gospel-like horror performed like a Faulkner short story gone terribly wrong with help from Pantaleimon (Andria Degens). "God's Small Song" is one of those beautiful whispering tomes that only Oldham could pull off. It moves almost not at all, with swelling strings, wordless backing vocals, guitars, and percussion in between each sung line, stretching each line into disintegration, yet it comes off like a prayer. It doesn't swell until the last minute or so, but that swell is redemptive, and Oldham's voice underscores the instruments in this section. The Cursed Sleep EP is a delightful, even beguiling way to spend 12 and a half minutes.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
5:31
2
3:45
3
3:58
blue highlight denotes track pick