Bonnie Prince Billy - Best Troubador LP
The ‰ÛÏalt-country‰ tag is a designation often applied to Will Oldham‰۪s music, and yet the Louisville singer-songwriter rarely makes music that sounds like any known country artist. His plaintive, lightly bleating tenor is odder and more finicky than even the strangest novelty artists of the genre proper; his wayward songwriting feels more indebted to eccentrics on the outskirts of the genre, like hippie-folk auteur Michael Hurley or, at his most poker-faced, Townes Van Zandt. Oldham‰۪s albums, like his delivery, are erratic and pleasantly precarious‰ÛÒat odds with the brazenness and control which defines so much of the greatest country music. So though the late Bakersfield-bred country superstar Merle Haggard, who passed away last year at the age of 79, feels like a logical spiritual mentor for the equally single-minded Oldham, the literal match in terms of musical sensibility is not a clear one.