Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Bonnie Prince Billy 

The Letting Go (Drag City)

There are memorable collaborations throughout Will Oldham's musically promiscuous career, including recent ones with Tortoise, Matt Sweeney, and Jason Molina. The latest to bear fruit is with Drag City labelmate Dawn McCarthy of Faun Fables, whose contributions to The Letting Go are understated by such adjectives as "integral" or "essential." McCarthy's voice is capable of Chan Marshall's whisper or Sandy Denny's soaring alto, and it shadows Oldham's smoke-cured croak like an ethereal chaser on all but a single cut.

Many tracks sound like buried English folk songs imbued with new life by the artistry of Icelandic producer Valgeir Sigurdsson (Björk, Sigur Rós), who plays Joe Boyd to Oldham's Nick Drake. The Letting Go fleshes out the sparse acoustics of 2003's Master & Everyone with a string section, brush-stroke percussion from the Dirty Three's Jim White, tasteful guitar lines from Chicago wunderkind Emmett Kelly, and the occasional gauzy electronic or keyboard effect. The fuller sound doesn't detract from Oldham's trademark intimacy and candor, which remains well-served by images and metaphors so immediate, you can practically see the lovers' sweat and smell their breath.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Speaking of CD Review

More by John Schacht

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays