In some years, when the recent history of folk music is being researched, Will Oldham's name will have to appear at least in bold and font size 24: not only is his career impeccable, but he's also done a lot to bring this style of music to a wider audience. After the initial boom that was neo-folk, few are those who managed to survive the whims of musical current events, but Bonnie “Prince” Billy is still there, bullet-proof, releasing records, playing live and starring in indie films.
This time he's releasing an EP with Mariee Sioux, an American singer with roots in Eastern Europe and indigenous Mexico, who will no doubt get more attention from now on, even though she's already been around the block a few times. Responsible for them getting together is Spiritual Pajamas co-founder Brito Govea, who gave Oldham the idea of recording a song with Sioux. And what should have been a one-day thing ended up becoming this 7”: four small but magnificent songs on which Oldham, far from stealing Sioux's thunder, proves to be the perfect partner, along with the exceptional band featuring, among others, Farmer Dave Scher (regular collaborator of Beachwood Sparks and Jenny Lewis), Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes) and Paz (from, ugh, Zwan).
They all put themselves at the service of Mariee Sioux's fragile voice, on songs where the most primitive blues, the most earnest folk, and the purest country go together hand in hand. But if there's one that stands out, it's “Loveskulls”: in little more than five minutes, they manage to transmit that romantic idea of the rural North America of the pioneers, something many musicians have tried over the years without success. The only “but” you could give this “Bonnie & Mariee” are the psychedelic stains on “Mad Mad Me”, a little bit out of tune with the rest of the EP. But it really is a tiny “but” for this curious but pleasant experiment.