Tortoise and Bonnie "Prince" Billy

The Brave and the Bold

Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy) isn't someone you'd necessarily associate with "fun," so the opening tracks on The Brave and the Bold, an engaging collection of cover songs recorded with Tortoise, are a welcome surprise. Oldham tackles Milton Nascimento's "Cravo É Canela" with aplomb, and the group's rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" is revelatory, turning a rock staple into a sensuous, cock-hard ballad. For Don Williams' "Pancho," the musicians mimic Paul Simon, creating a whimsical song that belies its bittersweet story about a failed friendship. These are imaginative interpretations, but Oldham and Tortoise can't sustain their momentum, even though the disc runs less than 40 minutes. Eventually, they resort to using variations on the same "Thunder Road" arrangement for most of the covers. But even at its most predictable, The Brave and the Bold is a worthwhile adventure.

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