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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.