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Matt Sweeney & Bonnie “Prince” Billy - Superwolf

Drift Sunday Classic

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie “Prince” Billy - Superwolf

One of our most loved albums of all time, this Sunday Classic is about the creature known as Superwolf...

Originally released at the end of January 2005, Superwolf is the debut collaborative studio album from songcrafters Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Matt Sweeney.

Will Oldham was in a true purple patch as “Bonnie”, still in the warm glow of 2003’s seminal Master and Everyone and shortly before the release of mid-career highlight The Letting Go, not to mention finding time for the excellent covers LP with Tortoise and revisiting earlier songs on the wry ‘Sings Greatest Palace Music’. Matt Sweeny was most famed at the time for his work in the excellent Chavez and more recently the supergroup Zwan, but across their fine respective careers, lightning truly struck on this simple, primal and outstanding set of songs.
The origins are suitably simple, with Oldham challenging Sweeney to write music to a series of song lyrics, confessionals full of loss and richly dark humour. And man, did he ever write some bangers! Skeletal guitar rattlers with primarily just the two voices, recorded with intimacy and an unfussy sort of bare-bone DIY ethic. After a few shows to test them, the duo journeyed to Paul Oldham's Rove Studios and quickly laid the album down, with the help of percussionist Peter Townsend and vocalist Sue Schofield who appears for a few vital ghostly cameos. The way that the album was captured is so evocative, more like a great live recording in many respects with imperfect moments and huge heart in performance.
Superwolf is one of the finest collaborations we’ve ever heard.

Sweeney’s dexterous guitar playing is so characterful, with warm, fuzzed-out chords that alternate between heartbreaking and euphoric. Oldham’s delivery and phrasing is just absolutely some of his best; the confidence to hold long, affectionate notes, but also a roughness that harks back to his recordings as Palace Brothers. That's not to forget the third character (perhaps Superwolf itself?) when their voices run over one another, full of yearning and companionship. For every moment of crushing heartbreak, there is a line that is absurdly funny, and for every vulnerability there is a brash riff that will clench your fist.

A bruised treasure and a record that every collection would benefit from.