Breaking through the dirt and shooting upward into our atmosphere is a new variety of exotic Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy plant. Stronger. Stinkier. It blooms in low light and cold but thrives in the sun as well, showing enticing spots and eating small creatures as they wander into its jaws. They had it coming, they were weak…and you’re next! Beware.
Though ‘Beware’ shares spit with its immediate predecessor released this past summer, ‘Lie Down in the Light’, it's reach is longer and stronger, more grandiose. Where fiddle and steel contribute their rustic timbre alongside guitars and voices, a thickening thud of low tone rolls beneath, giving the record a bottom that’s fun to watch bounce in new clothes. This indensifies the air and heralds ‘Beware’ as Bonny’s biggest, most ambitious record to date – yea, bigger and more ambitious than even ‘The Letting Go!’ A listen or two through and you too may conclude that this could also be the great Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy contempo-country record – though, as always, the ‘Prince’ goes his own special way, even when climbing the charts with brawny arms and classic titles like "I Don’t Belong to Anyone,” “You Can’t Hurt Me Now,” and “I Am Goodbye.”
’Beware’ is a much more measured exploration of the soul’s frailty and the sorry state of human relationships than your typical, everyday, bleaked-out, all-and-nothing roots rock platter. Song titles suggest half of a heated dialogue, perhaps just one side of a super-apocalypto phone call. Yet, there’s humor here as well, some of it too cute to call black. Lyrically, domestic ripostes are mixed with I-thou asides, statements of lusty selfhood and subtlety in between the lines, examining culpability and the need for release and rebellion, if you must know. Basically, if you haven’t learned already, love goes down mazy, anfractuous paths, on some days giving rise to irritations (both spiritual and physical) and the difficult consideration of an alternative fate. Sometimes all you want to do is f**k. Then there’s the times of fun, laughter and learning, and the sudden appreciation of your partner, your only friend. And with all these things in hand, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy says ‘Beware’.