I See a Darkness

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I See a Darkness
Studio album by Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Released 19 January 1999
Genre Indie rock, folk
Length 37:56
Label Palace, Domino
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 Austin Chronicle 3.5/5 stars[2]
Clash 9/10[3]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[4]
NME 7/10[5]
Pitchfork Media 10/10[6]
Q 4/5 stars[7]
Sputnikmusic 3.5/5[8]
Uncut 10/10[9]

I See a Darkness is an album by Bonnie "Prince" Billy, a moniker of American musician Will Oldham. Released in 1999 on Palace Records, I See a Darkness is Oldham's sixth album, and the first released under the Bonnie "Prince" Billy moniker. The album features appearances from Bob Arellano, Colin Gagon, Paul Oldham, and Peter Townsend.

Johnny Cash recorded the title track on his 2000 album American III: Solitary Man, with Oldham providing background vocals for Cash's version.[10] Steve Adey also covered the title track on his 2006 LP All Things Real.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

I See a Darkness received mostly positive reviews from music critics. Samir Khan of Pitchfork Media awarded the album a rare perfect score and described it as Oldham's "consummate offering" and the "type of record that demands solitary reverence".[6] 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".[12] Matt Lemay of 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".[13]

NME was more reserved, giving the album a 7/10 and describing it as "grim" and "perversely cheery", while also praising it for being a "delicate, intelligent record".[5] Sputnikmusic's Alex Robertson noted 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".[8] Upon reviewing the reissued album in 2012, Aaron Lavery of Drowned in Sound felt that the album was Oldham's "finest achievement thus far" and the "essential release" in his discography.[4]


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

  • #336 - Acclaimed Music: All-Time Top 3000 Albums [14]
  • #171 - Stylus: Top Favourite 101-200 Albums Ever[15]
  • #20 - Mojo: The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime[16]
  • #9 - Pitchfork Media: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s,[17] and notably received a rare 10.0/10 rating from Pitchfork[18]

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


  1. ^ a b Rounds, Gregg. "I See a Darkness – Bonnie "Prince" Billy". AllMusic. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  2. ^ Mellen, Kim (February 5, 1999). "Bonnie "Prince" Billy: I See a Darkness (Palace Records)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved October 18, 2015. 
  3. ^ James, Gareth (July 23, 2012). "Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I See A Darkness". Clash (76). Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Lavery, Aaron (July 27, 2012). "Album Review: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Arise Therefore; Joya; I See A Darkness (reissued)". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "I See a Darkness". NME. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Khan, Samir (September 30, 1999). "Bonnie "Prince" Billy: I See a Darkness". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  7. ^ "I See a Darkness, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy". Fishpond.com.au. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Robertson, Alex (January 17, 2010). "Review: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy – I See a Darkness". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  9. ^ Young, Rob (July 9, 2012). "Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – reissues". Uncut. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  10. ^ Beckett, Colin (September 1, 2003). "Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  11. ^ Mathers, Ian (July 6, 2006). "Steve Adey – All Things Real". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  12. ^ Thompson, Stephen (January 19, 1999). "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: I See A Darkness". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  13. ^ Lemay, Matt (September 2, 2002). "Stranded: I See a Darkness". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  14. ^ Acclaimed Music
  15. ^ Top 101-200 Favourite Albums Ever : The Stylus Magazine List - Article - Stylus Magazine
  16. ^ Acclaimed Music Forum
  17. ^ http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/5923-top-100-albums-of-the-1990s/10/ Top 100 Albums of the 1990s
  18. ^ http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/699-i-see-a-darkness/