Released only on vinyl, Funtown Comedown is a sparkling find buried in Will Oldham’s tangled discography under his various Palace and Bonnie “Prince” Billy monikers. Recorded live at Funtown, in Oldham’s hometown of Louisville, he is here credited as Bonny Billy, and backed by the Picket Line, a local bluegrass sextet. For Oldham, whose rich songs can often get lost in overly glum arrangements, the pairing with the Picket Line is a stroke of genius. Bluegrass is a perfect fit for Oldham’s dark, allusion-laden lyrics, transforming his moody songwriting into something inviting and warm. Oldham and the Picket Line dig in on a few classics, too, including Merle Haggard’s “Ramblin’ Fever” and a soaring close-harmony take on Ralph Stanley’s “Hemlock and Primroses.” But the joy is hearing a high lonesome string band breathe timbral sunlight on Oldham’s world. Humor has never been far from the surface in Oldham’s lyrics, but here it blossoms freely. During “Wolf Among Wolves,” he even howls a bit. Some tunes, like “We All Three Us Will Ride,” succeed as ageless bluegrass melodies, even if they lack the genre’s incessant choruses. Where much of Oldham’s output is mood music, Funtown Comedown is a consistent, upbeat good time. Oldham’s lyrics frequently demand multiple listens, the music sometimes an arbitrary carrier for their richness.- All Music
Limited edition cassette re issue!
Tracklist: Ohio River Boat Song / May It Always Be / Hemlocks And Primroses / The Glory Goes/Wolf Among Wolves / We All Us Three Will Ride / Easy Does It / Lay And Love / Rider / Rambling Fever / You Want That Picture / Idle Hands Are The Devil’s Playthings
Sea Note SN17CS