1994 Album from Will Oldham aka Bonnie Prince Billy
The sense of Palace Brothers being a band was dispelled by Will Oldham's second album Days In The Wake. Initially released eponymously, Days in The Wake is, apart from the addition of some backing vocals on "Come A Little Dog," a solo album. If the first Palace Brothers album sounded like eavesdropping on a hillbilly gathering, Days In The Wake is a more private, faraway recording.
The album opens with "You Will Miss Me When I Burn" one of Oldham's most tender melodies and, in the slight off-notes in his guitar picking, one of his most vulnerable. The album feels unhurried and still, on "No More Workhouse Blues" Oldham slows his voice down to as low a register as possible, before breaking into a searing declaration: "I am a racing horse / I am a grazing horse / I am your favourite horse," the animal being a key signifier – or perhaps a character - in many of Oldham's Palace songs.
Days In The Wake also has in places a lighthearted tone. On "I Send My Love To You" the singer asserts that he is "a duck," and on "Wither Thou Goest?" Oldham does an impression "Baa baa moo moo baa baa baa" of "the calves who bleed their lungs out." Oldham's use of "Thou" and "Wither" together with lyrics about livestock and trails and Sioux City are again suggestive of an earlier, mythical time. Oldham finishes the album with "I Am A Cinematographer" one of his finest early vocal performances and one of his warmest songs.
Hearing him sing "I was a big old bear once" with something approaching tenderness, this strange, affecting album is also possibly Oldham's most unorthodox.