Will Oldham's style sits weirdly between honesty and affect, and the listener never knows quite which is the more accurate description. The cracks in his voice and oddly-phrased lyrics point to an unvarnished, sometimes nasty truth. But his background in acting, his penchant for working with filmmakers like Harmony Korine, and his uncanniness in interviews alludes to a larger performance just outside the listener's grasp. If nothing else, Oldham is totally compelling.
Friday, in a rare live appearance, he reads from Rudolph Wurlitzer's Slow Fade, a forgotten novel about a man from the movie industry who, late in life, decides he's going to stop manipulating images. From this brief description, the reasons as to why Oldham would take on this project begin to reverberate. There are parallels here.
Earlier in the month, Oldham's label, Drag City, released an audiobook of the musician reading Slow Fade in full. On Friday, Oldham will be accompanied by co-reader Elisa Ambrogio (of the band Magik Markers), and Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance, who provide the eveningâ€™s soundtrack. The myth of Will Oldham gets deeper.