Will Oldham, aka Bonnie Prince Billy, returns with his 21st solo album and with it takes a step away from the jokier side of his persona (example: he appeared in R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet) and instead back towards his seminal record, I See A Darkness. Indeed, not only is Wolfroy Goes To Town incredibly sparse and hushed, there is an almost reverential feel to it.
Opener I'm No Match sums up the tone of the record. Over gentle guitar, Oldham states, “I'm no match for those who love the Lord and they are no match for me.” Thematically, Wolfroy... intelligently deals with questions of faith, humanity, love and sadness. The album proves just what a skilled craftsman Oldham is. He has always been lyrically interesting and challenging. Remember, this is a man who once wrote a really pretty song called You Have Cum In Your Hair and Your Dick Is Hanging Out. But here, Oldham has no intention of shocking. When New Tibet starts with the lyrics, “As boys, we fucked each other/As men, we lie and smile,” it doesn't feel remotely crass, but actually strangely tender because it is delivered with such delicacy.
In We Are Unhappy, Oldham has created a song of heartbreaking beauty. “We are unfelt/We are unseen,” he sings while Angel Olsen warbles tenderly alongside him over acoustic guitar so soft it is barely even there. It is stunning, stark, sad and the best thing that the man has come up with in many a year. It nicely represents what is a beautiful and understated record.
Review by Bobby Townsend. It first appeared in Sydney's Drum Media.