The Marble Downs

The Marble Downs

by Bonnie "Prince" Billy


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The Marble Downs

A collaboration between Trembling Bells and Bonnie "Prince" Billy is fitting on so many levels: both of these artists love to dig deep in the musical histories of their respective homelands and come up with something equally fresh and reverent. They do this brilliantly on The Marble Downs, which shows off the finest points of everyone involved while sounding like an early-'70s record collection that was left out in the sun to melt and meld together: raw British folk nestles up against Bakersfield country, while stately brass and acid rock guitars arm wrestle. The opening track, "I Made a Date (With an Open Vein)," is so triumphant and full-sounding with its bold fanfares and solos that it feels more like an ending than a beginning; later on, the tender piano ballad "Excursions into Assonance" sets a Dorothy Parker poem to music that could have come from a parallel universe's Simon & Garfunkel. The Marble Downs' vocals are just as inspired: Will Oldham's voice sounds more vital than it has in some time, even (or especially) when contrasted against the gorgeous clarity of Lavinia Blackwall's tones. They take each other to new heights, particularly on the garage rock tour de force "Ain't Nothing Wrong with a Little Longing," where the gallows humor for a troubled affair finds them trading barbs like "You could have honesty without cruelty/Your brutality was mechanical," and on the trippy chamber pop of "Ferrari in a Demolition Derby," where their lovely harmonies are surrounded by surreal pomp and circumstance. There are songs that sound like long-lost traditional laments, like the gorgeous, heartbreaking "Love Is a Velvet Noose," and songs that actually are traditional laments, such as "My Husband's Got No Courage in Him," one of The Marble Downs' many showcases for Blackwall. It does Oldham good to sing someone else's words -- he's especially charming on "I Can Tell You're Leaving," where he sings, "Like Merle Haggard, you'll see the fighting side of me" -- but one of the standout moments is the thunderous cover of his own "Riding." The album's celestial closing track, a cover of Robin Gibb's "Lord Bless All," underscores just how rare it is to hear a mix of sounds and artists that is so organic and unforced, and what a beautiful accomplishment that is. The Marble Downs is a cult classic in the making, and if Oldham's involvement helps more people discover Trembling Bells' eclectic brilliance, so much the better.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/10/2012
Label: Honest Jon's
UPC: 4047179645324
catalogNumber: 64
Rank: 254912

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bonnie "Prince" Billy   Primary Artist
Mike Hastings   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar,Group Member
Will Oldham   Vocals
Hidden Masters   Background Vocals
John Nicol   Background Vocals
Simon Shaw   Bass,Group Member
Peter Nicholson   Cello
Lavinia Blackwall   Organ,Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Glockenspiel,Vocals,Group Member
Alasdair Mitchell   Background Vocals
Alex Neilson   Drums,Theremin,Vocals,Bells,Group Member
Michael John McCarthy   Accordion
Richard Merchant   Trumpet
Martin Beer   Double Bass
Lucy Farrell   Violin,Viola
Sybren Renema   Saxophone
Saoirse McDonald   Recorder
Ross Macrae   Trombone
Dave Dixon   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Dorothy Parker   Composer
Will Oldham   Arranger,Composer
Traditional   Composer
Marcus Mackay   Engineer
Lavinia Blackwall   Arranger,Composer,Cover Art
Alex Neilson   Composer
Tusi   Vocal Engineer
Lucy Stein   Artwork

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