Album Review

Callahan, Bill – “Woke On a Whaleheart ” – [Drag City]

Jawbone   4/9/2007   A Library, CD

Bill Callahan has gone solo from his band Smog, which is pretty funny considering he was its sole member. After eleven Smog albums he no longer feels the need to hide behind a moniker, unlike labelmate Will Oldham and ex-girlfriend Chan Marshall (aka Bonnie ???Prince??? Billy and Cat Power respectively). He has a new found sense of self, which results in a subtle work that transforms from generic to sublime after repeated listenings.

The first track, ???From the Rivers To the Ocean??? seems pretty obviously influenced by and inspired by his girlfriend Joanna Newsom with its playful imagery and arrangement. There are gospel touches, bouncy (as opposed to dirge-like) country, and even French pop (ala Serge Gainsbourg) influences that are new for a Callahan release. This is not a downer record, which may lose him a lot of Smog fans. Callahan???s not sure anybody???s listening anymore, anyway, or have been for ten years, and he???s okay with that. He just wants to play his music and speak his peace.

Tracks 1, 4, 5, 8??& 9??work for me.


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