Boomkat Product Review:
Will Oldham has already given us several albums that seemed unsurpassable : from the hugely acclaimed 'I See a Darkness' to the understated romance of 'Master and Everyone' to name but two.
'The Letting Go', however, is possibly the most adventurous and unexpected record he has ever released - recorded and produced in Reykjavik, Icelend with Valgeir Sigurdsson, a man known for his work with Bjork and Mum among other artists, it features string arrangements from Nico Muhly (who has worked with Antony and the Johnsons) and Ryder Mcnair, imbuing the album with elements previously unheard in his catalogue. This combined with the talents of Faun Fables' Dawn McCarthy on vocals, Paul Oldham resuming his duties on Bass, Jim White on drums and Emmett Kelly on electric guitar produces a wondrous sound totally unique to this record. The most striking inclusion is that of McCarthy, who shares vocal duties with Oldham on almost every track - the harmonies she adds take Oldham's songs into places that they have so far only hinted at. Her voice is comparable to Sandy Denny and gives a subtle but haunting 70s folk resonance to the grandiose arrangements. I must say that I just wasn't expecting an album with the sort of scale and breadth of influence as 'The Letting Go' - the tracks move from triumphant epics ('Strange Form of Life') lo-fi old-time blues ('Cold & Wet') to almost ambient experimentalism ('God's Small Son'), coming to a close on an untitled piece of quite gorgeous percussion heavy songwriting that's possibly the most adventurous track on the album, managing to be challenging and experimental while also retaining a deep emotional core. The real key here is the quality of songwriting, and coupled with Oldham's most innovative and enjoyable arrangements yet, it really must be a very strong contender for album of the year. Essential purchase.