Although Bonnie "Prince" Billy got the cover treatment from none other than Johnny Cash on his last release (singing the title track from the dark I See A Darkness album), this is one of his first forays into the land of covers. Originally recorded as an acoustic EP for the Travel In Constants subscription series on the Temporary Residence label (which has grown into an even greater label in the past year), the 6 tracks get a louder re-working and re-packaging on this down-and-dirty release.
The reason I say down-and-dirty isn't because any of the tracks are sloppy or anything like that, but simply because Bonny Billy and the crew of musicians assembled rip through 6 different tracks in the course of just over 14 minutes. The band plays things pretty fast and loose, but also manage to get a fairly good amount of variety into things given the short length of the release.
The disc opens up with "Someone's Sleeping" (originally by John Philips of the Mamas and the Papas), and the minute and a half long track gets a pretty backing with somewhat disjointed sounding piano, guitars and percussion. Things get much more rollicking on the second track "Sweeter Than Anything" (originally by PJ Harvey) as the group adds a vibraphone and louder guitars, and Oldham obviously adds a bit more emphasis, almost yelping out the chorus. The version of reggae classic John Holt's "Strange Things" gets a rather trippy edge with vocals that sound like they're run through a filter, along with shimmery guitars and organs. The album closes out with a nice, simple cover of country singer Tim McGraw's "Just To See You Smile" and the track puts a solid cap on the end of things.
Even with the wide variety of source material (the album also includes a track by New Zealand pop group The Renderers), the lyrical and musical content of the album works well together quite well. Not only that, but the songs covered span over 30 years time, but they're brought together nicely on this short release. If you have the first version of the release from the Series, you're not going to get much more here, but otherwise this is an excellent little release from Oldham.