will oldham – joya

oh let me be myself

of any album, in hindsight, this one represents the raging independence i now live out. this is interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that this is one of ‘his’ only releases under the actual name will oldham.

it is much less of the country than the still-unparalleled quiet rock that i later realised was his strength. it was aided by the inclusion of dave pajo, and two of will’s best ongoing collaborators, bob arellano and colin gagon.

from this point, it actually amazes me that his defining moment was only two years hence. it was perhaps pre-empted here by a song like new gypsy, which is more electric than anything on i see a darkness, but not less striking – you can lay me out a place, it’s time i had some love; have the ladies gather round and do me from above. okay, will

in essence, apocalypse, no! is also in this vein; the theme and the gentle lulling of the rhythm created by all involved instruments. it seems to be more of a story, but one that is no less thrilling than the more obvious in his oeuvre, and no less personal. it’s a lesson in really listening to what he sings, because you will quite often be shocked.

it must be said that there are no particularly stellar songs, with maybe the exception of open your heart. i’ll admit, that’s going to be the song that i hold onto for the rest of my life until such time (if ever) i find a man to truly love:

open your heart, let this snake in
it’s not that hard
don’t fall apart before he tries
it’s not that hard to do it again
open your heart, just this last time

i know i lied, but i never said
that i wouldn’t try to mess with your head
i never wanted to be so far away
i only wish you would hear what i say

open your heart, let this snake in
don’t fall apart before he tries
it’s not that hard, do it again
open your heart, just this last time

if you didn’t know another was there
maybe you’d grow to learn not to care
but as it is, there’s just no hiding
it’s not worth having who can’t be abiding

of things that i need, and things that i value
and others unknowing of what we go through

so, weirdly, the brilliance of this album is in its understatement. the players are all the best; the most nuanced and subtle. it doesn’t need to have been the best album as a result. it’s one of those things that really makes one appreciate not only the songwriting, the performing, the people; but also realise through the attention you must pay, the other things in life that need recognition. small, hidden, quiet – essential.

i am still what i meant to be
and i’m losing my mind

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