When Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s most recent album, Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You, dropped in August, its lack of a title track wasn’t glaring; the project — with its quiet sadness and tongue-in-cheek humor — justified its playfully ominous headline without an explicit referent. Now, though, the anomalous Louisville artist born Will Oldham has shared a new single that shares the record’s name and its wistful sentiment but expands its sonic palette.
Per a press release, BPB recorded KSWDY “hermetically” — at home with a tight entourage of local artists — “as a necessity of what we hope will be a season that never returns.” The new song, however, was recorded “at the other end of that [pandemic] tunnel,” so album Oldham took it on tour, allowing his far-flung collaborators to add their contributions when he stopped in their cities. The track features bass stylings from Shahzad Ismaily, guitar work from Blake Mills and Emmett Kelly, drumming by Jim Keltner, and backing vocals courtesy of Lacey Guthrie, Katie Peabody, and Heather Summers.
“How can I grow old / If I don’t know?” Oldham and his miniature chorus ask in harmony on the hook. “Are you afraid to sing it? See, keeping secrets / Will destroy you.” The song plays like the long sigh of relief emitted after one releases something they’ve held in for far too long.
“Keeping Secrets” comes with a gorgeous visual treatment that intersperses and overlays natural landscapes and closeups of Oldham, pushing both elements into a wonderfully abstract space. Watch the video above and read a statement from its director, Adam Laity, below. Scroll further to stream the track on its own and view Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s upcoming tour dates.
“Will sent me the demo for ‘Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You’ about a year ago. I found the song so romantic — the idea of chucking a suitcase in car and heading off on a journey with a lover. And also the humility in the idea of being unable to grow old if we don’t come to terms with our faults, in the way that only someone you’re in love with can reveal to you. Agnes Varda said ‘If we opened people up, we’d find landscapes.’ The video is really about the affective resonance that landscapes can have for us, that sometimes last our whole lives. It started with the idea of clouds passing over Will’s face, and really it just grew from there. I wasn’t particularly interested in the video ‘making sense,’ but rather… trying to visualize the energy and flow of the song.”
Bonnie “Prince” Billy 2024 tour dates
January 18 – Jacksonville, FL – Intuition Ale Works
January 19 – St. Petersburg, FL – Side Door (at The Palladium)
January 20 – Orlando, FL – Pugh Theater at DPAC
January 21 – Miami, FL – Miami Folkways
March 21–24 – Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival