City Paper is not for tourists
The backwoods minimalism of early Palace Brothers songs seems positively baroque compared with Palace Brothers‘ nerve-wracking, naked excursions into old-time Appalachian music and modern angst. Gone are the banjos as well as the bandmates: The Brothers are now down to leader Will Oldham, who relies only on his cracking choirboy’s voice and woodshed guitar for this collection of stark laments. “If you have no one, no one can hurt you,” he sings in the opening “You Will Miss Me When I Burn.” In the album’s other standouts, Oldham mourns a dead dog in a yelping blues number, gives thanks to God and Alexander Pushkin, and finds redemption as a plow horse dreaming of thoroughbred glory. Not since Skip Spence sacrificed his sanity for his late- ’60s, late-night dirge Oar has such a warped visionary explored country’s haunted backroads and long- forgotten trails. Watch out, Will—the woods are dark and deep.