While the title track to Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s 1999 masterpiece, I See a Darkness, might be a benchmark of downcast songwriting, Will Oldham is now directing our gaze away from the abyss with a lively, re-imagined arrangement of the once-bleak number. Recorded by Steve Albini, (a common collaborator on Bonnie’s earlier output), “I See a Darkness” 2012 finds a buoyant groove in Oldham’s sparse original, thanks largely to his backing band over the past few years: Ben Boye, Van Campbell, Emmett Kelly, Danny Kiely, and Angel Olsen. Add the contrast of director Ben Berman’s black and white photography against an off-kilter sense of humor we caught in his “Quail and Dumplings” clip to the mix, and we’ve bridged the 13-year evolution of the tune in full, unfurling even more rewarding nuances. You still can’t beat the original, I’d say, but that’s in no way the goal here. “It’s about a person who is dark and morose and maybe unhappy in his life but who has a friend who makes it all worthwhile,” Berman puts it simply. Sometimes a darkness is just a darkness. Watch the new official video below:
This recording arrives on July 24th with five more classic Oldham tunes recently reworked for the Now Here’s My Plan EP.