For most of the '90s, Will Oldham was the mastermind of Palace Music, a shambling, country-tinged indie rock group that recorded under a variety of names. The only constant in Palace was Oldham, and he would often record as a solo artist under the Palace name. That fact made his decision to retire the Palace name in 1997 somewhat baffling, since for all intents and purposes, he was the band. Nevertheless, Joya, Oldham's first album as a solo artist, was slightly different than Palace, boasting a slightly darker and somber tone. Like all the Palace records, Joya was released on Drag City to positive critical notices and a moderately successful cult following. Although the subsequent I See a Darkness was attributed to Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Oldham continued using his given name for releases, including Ode Music and Guarapero: Lost Blues 2. The second Bonnie "Prince" Billy album, Ease Down the Road, arrived in early 2001, featuring collaborators David Pajo, Catherine Irwin, Mike Fellows, and Harmony Korine. Master and Everyone appeared two years later.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine