CD Review: Bill Callahan

Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle (Drag City)

It's fair to wonder why Bill Callahan bothered to switch up monikers after nearly two decades in the biz. After all, he'd been cultivating his cult under the appropriately hazy Smog moniker from his initial self-released cassettes in the late '80s all the way though 2005's A River Ain't Too Much to Love. It wasn't some sort of contractual dispute; he's as solidly a member of Drag City's roster as he ever was. And it sure wasn't any alteration of his core sound; 2007's solo debut Woke on a Whalebone sounds a lot like late-period Smog. So does this one. The absurdly named Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle has a lot in common with Callahan's other recent work. He brings his crackly baritone to bear on highlights like "Eid Ma Clack Shaw" and the stunning closer "Faith/Void" (a track that re-imagines Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left, if Drake had lived long enough to become obsessed with krautrock). In the end, a Smog album by any other name is still Bill Callahan, and it's of little importance what he wants to be called if the result soars as high as Eagle does. Chris Drabick

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