I See a Darkness

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I See a Darkness
Studio album by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Released 19 January 1999
Genre Folk, indie rock
Label United States Palace Records
United Kingdom Domino Records
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy chronology
I See a Darkness
Ease Down the Road
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [1]
The A.V. Club (very favorable) [2]

I See a Darkness is an album by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. It is Will Oldham's sixth album, and the first on which he used his Bonnie 'Prince' Billy moniker. The album was released in 1999 on Palace Records. The album also features Bob Arellano, Colin Gagon, Paul Oldham, and Peter Townsend.

Johnny Cash recorded the title track on his 2000 album American III: Solitary Man. Oldham provided background vocals for Cash's version.[3] Steve Adey also covered the title track on his 2006 LP All Things Real.[4]

Critical Reception[edit]

I See a Darkness received mostly positive reviews from music critics. Pitchfork awarded the album a rare perfect score and described it as Oldham's "consummate offering" and the "type of record that demands solitary reverence".[5] AllMusic characterized it as an "emotional and pleasurable listening experience".[1] The A.V. Club remarked that I See a Darkness was "wonderful" and the "most appropriate synthesis yet of Oldham's vocals and backing band".[2] Stylus Magazine wrote that "by addressing concepts so grand with such sincerity and skill, the album is incredibly powerful under even the most mundane of circumstances".[6] Upon reviewing the reissued album in 2012, Drowned in Sound felt that the album was Oldham's "finest achievement thus far" and the "essential release" in his discography.[7]

However, some reviews were mixed. NME gave the album a 7/10 and described it as "grim" and "perversely cheery", while also praising it for being a "delicate, intelligent record".[8] Sputnikmusic gave the album a 3.5/5, noting the grim subject matter, and stated that "when Oldham steers away from his own formula of sadness and strumming [...] is when the album works best".[9]


The album has been listed in several "best of" lists.

  • #336 - Acclaimed Music: All-Time Top 3000 Albums [10]
  • #171 - Stylus: Top Favourite 101-200 Albums Ever[11]
  • #20 - Mojo: The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime[12]
  • #9 - Pitchfork Media: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s,[13] and notably received a rare 10.0/10 rating from Pitchfork[14]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Will Oldham.

No. Title Length
1. "A Minor Place"   3:43
2. "Nomadic Revery (All Around)"   3:58
3. "I See a Darkness"   4:49
4. "Another Day Full of Dread"   3:10
5. "Death to Everyone"   4:31
6. "Knockturne"   2:17
7. "Madeleine-Mary"   2:31
8. "Song for the New Breed"   3:24
9. "Today I Was an Evil One"   3:52
10. "Black"   3:46
11. "Raining in Darling"   1:54