a wild horse
on a collision course
with the sun
Unsurprisingly, Bill Callahan‘s newly released album Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle is fantastic. After eleven albums calling himself Smog, his second release under his name is brooding, yet uplifting. Callahan has built a career around acoustic songs that mix personal tragedy with dark humor, and being one of the few artists who can deploy repetition in their songs to create effect rather than boredom.
I’ve known people to confuse him with David Berman (singer of The Silver Jews) and it’s no surprise; they share similarly deadpan voices in mainly acoustic songs driven by witty lyrics, and they’ve both lived my dreams (Berman is best friends with Stephen Malkmus, Callahan has dated Chan Marshall and Joanna Newsom). I couldn’t imagine Callahan singing the vocals for any other act. I also couldn’t imagine anyone else singing Callahan’s songs.
The lyrics on Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle are personal, seemingly about heartbreak, but that is just business as usual for Callahan. What has changed is the clean arrangement and sound – is he happier now? I’ll let you decide for yourself by comparing older songs with his new songs.
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PHOTOGRAPHY: Joanna Newsom