Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy–Death To Everyone

Will Oldham’s first release under the Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy moniker was no light affair.  I See a Darkness was an instant classic of modern independent country, with the title track receiving a high profile cover at the hands of Johnny Cash as part of his American Recordings series.  But that song seems almost gentle in comparison to Death to Everyone.  While the lyrics are more impressionistic, not as explicitly threatening as the title track, the song feels more sinister.  It’s quietly ominous, with Oldham promising “Death to everyone/is gonna come” with detached menace.  The fact that he’s doing it over incongruous wah-wah guitar and backing vocals that recall The Specials’ Ghost Town only serves to make it more disconcerting.  It’s a master class in mood, stretching sparse storytelling into genuine horror.

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