20 Songs, 1 Hour 3 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Few songwriters have Bill Callahan’s eye for wry detail: “Like motel curtains, we never really met,” the singer-songwriter declares on “Angela,” using his weather-worn baritone. On his first studio album in five years—an unusually long gap for Callahan—one of the enduring voices in alternative music continues to pare back the extraneous in his sound. A noise musician and mighty mumbler when he broke through under the moniker of Smog in the early 1990s, Callahan now favors minimal indie-folk brushstrokes such as a guitar strum, a sighing pedal steel guitar, or simply barely audible room ambience. The 20 songs here insinuate themselves with bittersweet melodies and a conversational tone, and they’re a strong reminder of Callahan's dry sense of humor: “The panic room is now a nursery,” the recently married new father sings on “Son of the Sea.” But if he’s comparatively settled in life, Callahan still knows how to hit an unnerving note with a matter-of-fact ease.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Few songwriters have Bill Callahan’s eye for wry detail: “Like motel curtains, we never really met,” the singer-songwriter declares on “Angela,” using his weather-worn baritone. On his first studio album in five years—an unusually long gap for Callahan—one of the enduring voices in alternative music continues to pare back the extraneous in his sound. A noise musician and mighty mumbler when he broke through under the moniker of Smog in the early 1990s, Callahan now favors minimal indie-folk brushstrokes such as a guitar strum, a sighing pedal steel guitar, or simply barely audible room ambience. The 20 songs here insinuate themselves with bittersweet melodies and a conversational tone, and they’re a strong reminder of Callahan's dry sense of humor: “The panic room is now a nursery,” the recently married new father sings on “Son of the Sea.” But if he’s comparatively settled in life, Callahan still knows how to hit an unnerving note with a matter-of-fact ease.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.4 out of 5
16 Ratings

16 Ratings

Kye Alfred ,

Best of his songwriting so far

Bill seems to have found an even deeper well for his songwriting somehow. This new work astonishingly manages to be more in touch emotionally while maintaining his accute view of the humon condition with the smirk of his humor. Mr. Callahan continues to be in a league all his own.

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