Three Queens in Mourning first gathered in summit to sing celebration of the publication of Will Oldham’s book of collected lyrics, ‘Songs Of Love And Horror’. Alasdair Roberts (Appendix Out), Jill O’Sullivan (Jill Lorean), and Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells, Alex Rex) each arrived provisioned with
a small armful of selections nearest and dearest from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy/Will Oldham’s far-reaching catalogue. Three Queens In Mourning’s takes on these tunes follow naturally from the fit between Will’s words and their three distinctive voices. Alasdair Roberts’ sweet, guileless delivery of ‘Christmas Time In The Mountains’ amplifies the lacerating quality of the lyric “we need an enemy/I’m saving all my rage for you”; even if at the outset of the song we’re told that “time is the enemy,” the abiding sentiment – the red-hot word that organizes my memory of the song – is rage. Ali’s and Jill’s trading of verses on ‘New Partner’ puts a different spin on what had previously registered as an especially mercurial first-person narrative voice, one that swoops between tenderness (“lay back, rest your head on my thighs”) and
ecstatic self-absorption (breaking it to the ex to whom the song is addressed that “I’ve got a new partner riding with me”). Add Alex’s voice, not only for his madcap ‘Lost Blues,’ but as part of the choir on ‘Ohio River Boat Song’ (a song with origins in the traditional ‘Loch Tay Boat Song’), and these three Scottish accents singing about the muddy Ohio, Smoketown, Oldham County, and Floyds Knobs, I mean, there’s not much else this Kentuckian -these are all deeply familiar landmarks- can say. Type through tears. On this back to back record, The Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy LP is a collection of three cover versions from Ali, Jill and Alex directory and one original track.
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