Few solo artists can claim as productive a career as Will Oldham. Still, the Americana master has never compromised skill for speed. His latest offering, Wolfroy Goes to Town, possesses an immediacy and directness that makes it one of Oldham’s best collections to date.
Oldham’s sparse arrangements are as beautiful as they are haunting, but the chills left by this record are the sort that go with classics. The longest track on the album, for instance, is called “We Are Unhappy.” Even as Oldham laments his world, you can’t help but be drawn in by his gentle voice and softly melodic acoustic tones. The delicate “Cows” begins nearly a cappella before building to a military drumbeat and a guitar riff that seems nearly like a parody of Southern rock. “Quail and Dumplings” is a cautiously hopeful look at poverty and starvation.
Wolfroy Goes to Town is the perfect album for modern times. Even as Americans seem to be working harder while earning less, there is always some reason to keep moving forward. Beautiful music can come from the darkest corners, and Bonnie “Prince” Billy provides a soundtrack to our struggles as well as a reason to smile.