After a devastating string of full-lengths in the early 2000s culminating in the one-two punch of 2005's collaboration with Matt Sweeney, SUPERWOLF, and 2006's wrenching THE LETTING GO, Will Oldham seemed to be in a state of letting go himself. He re-energized his acting career with OLD JOY and a goofy appearance in a Kanye West video; wrote "His Hands," the title track to soul singer Candi Staton's comeback record; and backed up Tortoise on an odd album that featured-- among other throwaways--a cover of Springsteen's "Thunder Road." ASK FORGIVENESS, a mini-album of his own covers, finds Oldham back in fine form even as it chips away at his hard-earned gravitas.
Recorded on a lark in Philadelphia with members of the homegrown folkie outfit Espers, ASK FORGIVENESS finds Oldham lending his trademark warble to a diverse array of numbers. While Phil Ochs, Bjork, Thom Yorke, and Danzig are all given the Palace brother's spacious and shambolic indie-folk makeover here, the collection's stand-out is R. Kelly's "World's Greatest," within which Oldham discovers an earnest heart. While Cat Power--the other titan of millennial whisper-rock--beat Oldham to this concept with her own THE COVERS RECORD, ASK FORGIVENESS is every bit that record's equal and a welcome addition to Oldham's epic catalog.
The Wire (p.53) - "Within its contemplative parameters, ASK FORGIVENESS is certainly a success....[With] Bonnie 'Prince' Billy returning once again to a meditative, troubadour persona..."
Q (Magazine) (p.92) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "With Oldham reinventing everything in his own backwoods way, the results are not so far in spirit from Johnny Cash's American Recordings."
Harp (magazine) - "[T]here's remarkable fluidity across this gorgeous set, which suggests that Oldham's versions of anyone else's songs are first and foremost his own."
Uncut (magazine) (p.83) - "Unobtrusive, but indubitably stylish."