On one hand, Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy) seems to have journeyed a long way from his recordings with Palace Music in the 1990s--which featured a ragged, lo-fi/indie take on backwoods, old-timey American folk--to the comparatively clean, thoughtful, and mature sound of 2006's THE LETTING GO. On the other hand, Oldham's course has remained true in its use of a spare, even stark, singer-songwriter mode to convey complex feelings and observations rendered through his creaky voice and literate, associative lyrics.Like 2003's MASTER AND EVERYONE, THE LETTING GO is a quiet, introspective record that examines the human heart, but the songs here equal or better those on its excellent predecessor. Oldham's insight into the politics of self and relationships is unflinching, and his wordplay--which balances surreal poetry with heartbreaking confessionals--is at its peak. Sonically, THE LETTING GO is expansive, adding strings, subtle percussion, and ambient effects that enhance but never crowd the songs. Harmony vocalist Dawn McCarthy contributes gorgeous textures to the mix of blues, country, folk, and minstrel-like elements, and all of it makes a persuasive case that Oldham has grown into an artist of striking vision and emotional power. This version of the album features enhanced sound for the DVD-Audio format.