Release Date: May 20, 2008
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
A number of reliable descriptors are frequently used in critiques of recordings by Will Oldham, Louisville’s answer to Kingston’s Tom Mawhinney, but “charmingly accessible” isn’t usually among them. Our willfully enigmatic boy Bonnie seems determined to change that with the atypically upbeat Lie Down In The Light, which comes loaded with grandly orchestrated songs both as melodically rich and lyrically ambitious as anything he’s ever done under any alias. At times the Crosby, Stills & Nash-inspired harmony bits come off slightly overbaked, but if Oldham is angling for a summery feel-good sound that will go down well with Americana fans without alienating his sad sack indie rock fans, I’d say he knocked it out of the park.
With 2006’s The Letting Go, and now with Lie Down in the Light, Will Oldham seems to have comfortably completed his gradual transition from slightly creepy pseudo-hermit to the kind of bearded troubadour you could bring home to meet your parents (especially if they happen to own any CSN records). He’s more or less entirely done away with the shoddy playing, lo-fi recording, tortured syntax and awkward sexuality of his past works to embrace a more polished, professional, and consumer-ready aesthetic. Light, as its title would suggest, finds Oldham in a particularly bucolic mood, and is probably his most accessible album to date.