The bleak midwinter might seem like a self-defeating time to release new material but when we’re talking about Bonnie "Prince" Billy then clearly exceptions have to be made. And when you listen to ‘The Best Of Folks’ below, you’ll see why.
Released on 21 December as a limited edition run of just 333 7” vinyl singles on the boutique Dutch label Tiny Room, this split single sees Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy occupy one side with ‘The Best Of Folks’ with the Utrecht supergroup Naked Shortsellers taking up the other with ‘Harbour Men’.
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 20 years since Will Oldham broke through with I See A Darkness, the first album to be released under the guise of Bonnie "Prince" Billy. A thing of stark beauty, it came to define the closing months of the 20th century and its title track was famously covered by Johnny Cash. And, as evidenced by ‘The Best Of Folks’, he’s still capturing the here and now with moments of fragile beauty.
‘The Best Of Folks’ is as much a guide for survival in a world of increasing alienation and digital dependency, as it is a highlight of a long-running career. The gently plucked guitar commands your attention and it’s difficult to disagree with Oldham’s conclusion: “Don’t get angry if you’re called the worst of many/Don’t withdraw your hands from all that they can do/Those who would deny your love may not have any/For the best of folks will see the best in you.”
Flip the single over and you’ll find ‘Harbour Men’ by Naked Shortsellers. Made up of members from Dutch bands This Leo Sunrise, The Fire Harvest and Boy Ler, this supergroup of sorts also features a contribution from Will Oldham. Occupying an alt.county hinterland made up of pedal steel guitars, shimmering twangs and sweeping aural vistas, this is a track that perfectly encapsulates those long winter nights.
‘The Best Of Folks’ by Bonnie "Prince" Billy and ‘Harbour Men’ by Naked Shortsellers is released on 21 December as a 7” single and digital download by Tiny Room Records.