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Bonnie Prince Billy’s Lie Down in the Light

One of the most gifted singer-songwriters this side of early Bob Dylan rarely makes a public appearance: his fans are getting desperate, hence the timeliness of this live album, Lie Down in the Light. The most immediately notable aspect of this, however, is the lack of difference between his concert recordings and his studio releases. This has nothing to do with squeaky clean production on the former, however: the focus should be on the genius production on past studio albums. There is perhaps no other artist around today that reaches so far out of the speakers and into your private space. More than most live recordings can offer, Oldham sounds so immediate and so clear that he may as well be sitting on the end of your bed. 1999’s I See A Darkness was completely disarming in this respect. Producer Steve Albini summed it up well: ‘He chooses the people he’s going to play with shortly before the session, so everyone is playing by the seat of their pants, and the music is at constant risk, subject to the weaknesses of whoever’s in the room’. The live album is certainly no disappointment, despite the distance between him and listener growing slightly. This time he’ll be sitting outside your window, the pane of glass giving a haunting, lo-fi quality to the sound, but still the man is right there carrying the same, heavy presence.