Greatest Palace Music
By: Eric Greenwood
This is a terrible idea, even on paper. Will Oldham re-records an album's worth of his best songs from his Palace years with a professional studio backing band in Nashville, Tennessee, presumably to introduce a new crop of hipsters to what they might have missed. Even from the winking ironic pedestal that all Drag City releases look down from, this reeks of indulgence of the highest order. I could honestly barely sit through this album. I know these songs like the back of my hand; they are a part of me. Despite my nostalgic sentimental attachment to the originals, I opened my mind enough to try to hear what Oldham was trying to achieve here, but it's just a shambles. Oldham removes every aspect of what made these songs great in the first place: the intimacy of the bare bones recordings, the crackle of his voice in the most unexpected moments, the erratic emotional outbursts, the awkward musicianship. All have been replaced, ignored, smoothed over, and rejected in favor of nameless, faceless, emotionless interpretations. It just boggles my mind the ego it must take to see a project like this to fruition. I truly wish I had never heard this album.