Bonnie Prince Billy - No More Workhouse Blues (Domino)
UK release date: 18 October 2004
There are some artists who, while lurking on the edge of commercial success, are big enough in critic and muso circles to be constantly namechecked. BPB enjoys such acclaim.
It's easy to see why on hearing of this single. No More Workhorse Blues is a lushly-produced yet wrist-slashingly dark song revolving around just three chords, some pedal steel and folkish strings. Equally brooding (but not nearly as good) is B-side Ruby, which contrasts Will Oldham's usual fragile vocals with gutteral howls. It's almost a relief when the slightly more (but not very) uplifting extra track kicks in - The Kiss is a poorly recorded but beautiful acoustic meditation on "the sweet communion of a kiss".
The title track's video (featured on the CD) by Julian Donkey Boy director Harmony Korine matches the Aphex Twin's Come to Daddy in its disturbing weirdness - by the time of the final shot featuring Will Oldham grinning menacingly at the camera, it feels like you're probably peering into the dark recesses of his mind - and it ain't pretty. Certainly not for the faint of heart.