January 2014 National Music Reviews

Review: Bill Callahan – Dream River

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Bill Callahan
Dream River
Drag City
Street: 09.17.13
Bill Callahan = Smog + Leonard Cohen – Bob Dylan
How do you follow up on a musical “Apocalypse?” After his last release, so fatalistically-titled two years ago, Dream River is intended, he told Spin, as “smooth and relaxing, the perfect end to a person’s day.” These songs are the kind of dreamlike reveries that can lull you into a drifting state that can carry you into dangerous territory, if that danger is sometimes just impending, around the corner. His impeccably clear vista encompasses the “Eagle” he “wished we were” in the title of his 2009 set. In this album’s “Ride My Arrow,” the “small animal in its clasp” is “alive and enjoying the ride,” also in a dream. But what happens when we wake up? Callahan’s lyrics are the kind of news you can only get from poetry, as William Carlos Williams once said. From the coarsely ground atmosphere of his early work with Smog, Callahan’s muse grows increasingly more subtle with each collection he records. –Stakerized!
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