The Letting Go - Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Universal acclaim - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. The pull of European cool against Oldham's usual rustic, heartfelt love poetry creates moments of sweet tension.
  2. Truth to tell, since the quality of Oldham's songwriting has rarely wavered, the excellent arrangements and McCarthy's contributions make The Letting Go the best of his career to this point.
  3. At last, Will Oldham as Bonnie 'Prince' Billy has given us a record of cryptic romanticism to complement the silver-rimmed bleakness of his 1999 masterpiece I See A Darkness. [Sep 2006, p.73]
  4. The effect is soothing, though it crosses the line into uncharacteristic blandness at times. [22 Sep 2006, p.94]
  5. It’s been years since he sounded this responsive and attentive.
  6. Unlike Oldham's best work, The Letting Go doesn't pull you into its own emotional world; it doesn't ask much, and you're free to take as much from it as you'd like.
  7. Arguably up there with his greatest achievements to date, "The Letting Go" is business as usual for Oldham, but also a brand new start.
  8. The heart of the album lies in the unparalleled excellence of Oldham’s songwriting – simple yet complex, understated and profound at the same time.
  9. It’s nowhere near as inviting as his previous works, even with the excellent production and introduction of strings. But give it a few weeks; it’ll grow.
  10. A quite beautifully realised album.
  11. 80
    This album makes good on the promise of earlier benchmarks like Ease Down The Road and Master And Everyone. [Oct 2006, p.102]
  12. 80
    The most immediately striking thing is the effect of the string arrangements, which add an extra layer of haunting mystery. [Oct 2006, p.102]
  13. [An] understated but epic album.
  14. The Letting Go benefits as much from diversity as from Valgeir Sigurosson's recording.
  15. It’s a winning combination, with the Prince’s shambolic charm still intact but lent clarity by the new additions that make this infinitely preferable to previous efforts.
  16. The lineup addition of [singer Dawn] McCarthy proves to be a genius move; her vocals blend beautifully with Oldham's, and her soaring solo flights make a great recording exceptional.
  17. The Letting Go's marvellously grandiose taster single, 'Cursed Sleep', suggested that this would be the album to finally reward our patience. And so it is, though not always in the way that might have been expected.
  18. Oldham's songwriting is top-notch as usual, his melancholy lyrics in perfect balance with the accompanying music.
  19. This promising notion of marrying the overly pensive, doomed-romantic Billy persona with orchestral-sized studio ambitions is a wash, the cumulative effect being undeniably gorgeous, in a rainy-day internalized apocalypse kind of way.
  20. For those prepared to dig in, it's another reliably rewarding listen. [Oct 2006, p.125]
  21. 70
    The songs on The Letting Go that flirt with familiar forms... feel completely devoid of his pretentious tendencies. [Oct 2006, p.94]
  22. The Letting Go is arguably the most pretty and richly detailed record Oldham has released in years.
  23. Though it’s extremely well-crafted and features all his beloved attributes, it’s unlikely to win him many new fans. [#15]
  24. It does contain some beautiful songs. Its deficiencies won’t miff his indulgent cult (at least not any more than they’ve been miffed previously). But it doesn’t quite hold together.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 31 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Aug 6, 2011
    Bonnie "Prince" Billy (Will Oldham) isn't for everybody. But I think anyone can like at least something by him. "Lay & Love" and "Strange Form of Life" are highlights for me. A very quiet album. Full Review »