Bonnie Prince Billy & Matt Sweeney - I Gave You (Domino)
UK release date: 25 July 2005
Whatever guise he is operating under, be it Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace Brothers, or whatever, Will Oldham continually succeeds in sounding unlike anyone else on the planet right now (yet he is continually bracketed with the alt-country herd). I Gave You is the latest single from Superwolf, the album that emerged from his collaboration with old pal Matt Sweeney, who emerged unscathed from Billy Corgan's Zwan.
Here, Oldham actually veers close to stripped down, singer-songwriterly folk. I Gave You's melody is reminiscent of the English traditional song, John Barleycorn. It is the tale of offering everything to a loved one ( "I gave you a child, and you didn't want it") only to be rejected and belittled. This theme, and the paucity of the song, invites comparisons with Leonard Cohen - Sweeney's understated guitar providing a hypnotic instrumental spine,a la Suzanne.
Sweeney's playing is the same on the lengthy B-Side, My Circle. This is quite something - at first its quiet sadness is touching but its unrelenting repetition really does wear out the listener's patience, especially after having heard the title phrase for the twentieth time. And I know that is probably the point. Fine single though, and hopefully one to lead to more appreciation of the excellent Superwolf.