Drag City - 2005 - 43 minutes

Allowing for the frequent changes in style and name, there is a reassuring consistency to the output of Will Oldham. Once more under the banner of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and alongside Matt Sweeney (veteran of Zwan and Chavez), Oldham resumes his struggle with love, death and (sigh) the meaning of it all.

Sweeney is credited with the music while BPB provides the lyrics, but 'Superwolf' is a more tightly braided collaboration than that simple explanation would suggest. What we have here is not the hesitant conversation of strangers. These familiar exchanges hint at the time this music was given to form, both in the studio and onstage.

Unhurried and captivating, 'My Home Is the Sea' instantly draws the listener into an album of barely crafted, yet complete songs. The guitar playing of Matt Sweeney is perfectly muted throughout, allowing Oldham's songwriting to take centre stage.

'Beast for Thee' and 'Blood Embrace', two of the strongest tracks, show that his love for eerie, dimly lit storytelling has yet to fade. Atmospheric in the extreme and relentlessly downbeat, the sparse and effective production mirrors the brutal simplicity of the lyrics.

While inspiration rescues many of the potentially unremarkable songs on the album, it deserts a handful also. However even the weakest songs manage to retain the dark mood (if not the interest of the listener) and play a part in creating a thoroughly coherent piece of work.

There has always been a hushed, late-night quality to much of Will Oldham's music, and these compositions flicker with that same understated passion.

Ray Donoghue

Tracklisting: My Home Is the Sea – Beast for Thee – What Are You – Goat and Ram – Lift Us Up – Rudy Foolish – Bed Is for Sleeping – Only Someone Running – Death in the Sea – Blood Embrace – I Gave You