You can understand why Will Oldham might not immediately seem like a whole lot of fun to non-fans. A defiantly eclectic, extravagantly moustached actor-turned-musician, his prodigious output, sent out into the world under a confusing array of names, is primarily informed by folk or country. Instrumentation, especially in early recordings, tends to be sparse, sometimes nothing more than an acoustic guitar. Even his best-known song is called I See a Darkness.
But as this song shows, there's a whole lot more to him. Bonnie "Prince" Billy, the name under which Oldham has been recording since 1999, was intended is an outlet for his uninhibited, more ribald, even feral, side. It's proved a surprisingly cohesive character, whose initial professed despair with romantic love had evolved, by the time of this 2008 offering, into a lascivious mischief-maker.
You Remind Me of Something is a glorious summary of that era, a vague yet universal tribute to "the song that does not end" – a musical metaphor for, perhaps, love, maybe lust, or fun, even just life. Sung in a breathless harmony by Oldham and occasional co-vocalist Ashley Webber, it's propelled by little more than acoustic guitar, a bongo-type drum and, on the chorus, insistent violin.
While the lyrics are opaque, at times even deliberately absurd ("And my mother is a good one, as they go/ She does not condone the actions that I do that she don't know") the overall effect is uplifting, yearning and joyful, particularly in the chorus, with its refrain of: "You remind me of something/ The song that I am/ And you sing me back into myself." My girlfriend was an avowed Oldham sceptic till, by iTunes cock up rather than design, I included this song in an otherwise disco-heavy jogging playlist. She returned from a run one day beaming: "This is amazing – who is it?"
In his latest Bonnie "Prince" Billy album Oldham has returned to more sombre form. On the face of it, last year's Wolfroy Goes to Town would be an even tougher sell to a newcomer: how do you fancy 10 mainly downbeat songs that appear to deal largely with one man's loss of faith? Again, you'd be confounded – it's utterly beautiful.
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