Greatest Palace Music


As one of the most enigmatic and enduring voices in the American underground, Will Oldham’s name is synonymous with desperate, renegade folk music. His string of hipster must-haves in the ’90s (Viva Lost Blues, Arise Therefore and Joya) came under a number of names (Palace Music, Palace Brothers and finally Bonnie "Prince" Billy) and made him a reluctant fringe celebrity. Often presented with ragged low-fi aesthetics and a bleak narrative perspective, his masterful focus on age-old obsessions with sex and death has produced one of the most distinctive songbooks of the last two decades.

On Greatest Palace Music, Oldham revisits his most popular "hits." But instead of the loose production of his history, the 15-song retrospective sparkles with Nashville fidelity, employing an impressive lot of studio sidemen and (dare we say) a commercial sensibility. It’s even in tune! The luscious treatment serves Oldham’s songwriting perfectly, and though there are some standouts ("New Partner," "Agnes, Queen of Sorrow") the entire collection is a stunning reminder of Oldham’s singular voice. When it comes to a close, with a western-swinging, sing-along version of "I am a Cinematographer" it feels good to reunite with Oldham. His voice may be slightly unfamiliar, and he may have ditched his thrift store outfits for a slick Nudie suit, but damn, Will, it’s good to see you again.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.