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bill callahan: shepherd in a sheepskin vest review

A peerless storyteller gazes deep into domestic life and offers a long, sun-warmed double album that is a highlight of his career. “From a hill behind a gas station in Scranton / I could see the old ways stretching out in their graves / And I thought but I didn’t say,” he sings, then switches to a dusky minor chord before saying what he thought: “Woman, ain’t it glorious / Without a past, there’d be no one here but us, lonely as Adam and Eve.” “So I left Eden,” he finishes, “with a song up my sleeve.”, Side two begins with birth and flight, in “747,” and lands in unknown territory. He’s probably doing this all the time, though now he’s writing them down again, reminding us that we are “flies on a mule / and we’re good at what we do.”. On “What Comes After Certainty,” he casually remarks “Well, I never thought I’d make it this far / Little old house, recent-model car / And I got the woman of my dreams.” Sometimes happiness can shell-shock us a little bit, leaving us in a state where we can’t believe our luck and start wondering when we’re gonna lose it all. It’s a story as old as time (maybe a little bit older even), popular among artists but by no means restricted to them. Loud And Quiet Independent with your support The second side in particular seems to chart the course of the entire album in miniature. And I hope he doesn't take so long for another album or to tour again. Nearly 30 years into his career, he’s making his best work yet, though it makes one wonder if his fans from the beginning of his career are his same fans now. Callahan isn’t the first writer to identify, in the deep and elemental stillness of the soul that comes with true contentment, a note of death. “Sometimes you sleep while I take us home / That’s when I know we really have a home,” he sang on “Small Plane.” Now, it feels like he’s finally arrived. That doesn’t mean the album doesn’t linger. It’s a big, ambitious record, with recurring images that resonate like cliffhangers across its hourlong runtime, appearing first in one song and resolving several songs later. It also analyzes reviews to verify trustworthiness. isn’t hermetically sealed in the living room. It also addresses the thrills and terrors of the outside world: ferocious beasts, sweeping canyons, a woman (“Angela”) who sounds like an ex or extramarital lover: “Like motel curtains, we never really met,” Callahan sings ruefully, conjuring both the scene of the liaison and its lack of true intimacy. “The heart of a man / Is a fork in the road / That’s where I stand / As the ocean pulls the moon from behind the cloud.” Is this racing through Callahan’s mind as he is the throes of love? The approach suggested that these sides can be taken as thematically connected suites as well as parts of a whole, and the material reinforces that reading. Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest is out 6/14 via Drag City. Women’s voices appear behind his, as does a piano and a few different guitars, all of them wandering into what feels like a curtain-call. He is a prolific poet and storyteller for our times...and of course stories change when life changes, as his has done recently...don't they for all of us, but he still makes music you want to crawl into and live there for awhile. Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest is Callahan’s first album in six years. “I’m bleeding.” There you have it: The first Bill Callahan album ever to mention period sex. It’s also over an hour long and has 20 songs. You see, dating back to his still continuing alliance with the Drag City label in 1991, Bill Callahan had never gone more than two years between album releases, whether under his SMOG moniker or using his actual name, often putting them out annually, for 22 years until 2013’s Dream River. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. His voice is sucked through a filter that makes it sound like a far-off radio broadcast, and the music evaporates behind him until a faint but portentous drone is the only thing left. The Bad: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest is an easygoing album, mostly featuring Callahan casually singing and strumming his acoustic guitar, with some overdubbing. “I got married,” he intones, voice heavy with that Bill Callahan gravity, and waits a beat before deadpanning the exquisitely silly punchline: “to my wife.” “Let’s spend a lightyear together / Yes, I know it’s a distance,” he coos, and you can practically see that wife rolling her eyes. “Yeah, love is the king of the beasts/ And when it gets hungry it must kill to eat,” Bill Callahan intoned on “Eid Ma Clack Shaw,” a song off of his 2009 album Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle. His baritone may seem steely, but there’s vulnerability underneath, like when his voice breaks to show that he’s human after all. For one thing, the woman he loves isn’t an absence haunting his nightmares, as she was on 2009’s Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle; she’s in his house. It’s a big, ambitious record, with recurring images that resonate like cliffhangers across its hourlong runtime, appearing first in one song and resolving several songs later. The new record isn’t painted in as many broad watercolor strokes as some he’s released in the last decade. Elsewhere, the music is loose, amiable, and naturalistic. Part of the interest in listening to Callahan is this journey, to paraphrase some of his past lyrics, from dark to light, sometimes back to the dark, then into the light again. Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest presents a particularly pristine and free-flowing variation on the stylistic idiom Callahan has been exploring since the final Smog record, 2005’s A River Ain’t Too Much to Love: derived somehow from folk and country, but obliquely, refracting the sensibilities of those genres across cubist landscapes that are difficult to compare directly to anything but other Bill Callahan albums. The trade-off is that Shepherd has a lot of songs—20 in fact, more than twice that of its predecessor. His music wasn’t about aloneness, but the man making it sounded supremely alone. Obviously a review by me is basically just a long time fan showing love for a true artist. Bill Callahan is back and I am so glad. “It feels good to be writing again” Callahan sings on “Writing.” “Clear water flows from my pen / It sure feels good to be writing again.” The return to this state is accompanied by serene guitar arpeggios and soft tones of pedal steel. Happiness? Any sunburned grinning idiot in a hammock could admonish you to “live in the present”—irritating, if technically good advice. . “Did you have that dream again, the black dog on the beach?” Callahan asks abruptly at the end of “Shepherd’s Welcome,” the brief opening track. Merely saying Bill Callahan’s music career has been a journey is an understatement. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. You can reach him at, A review of “Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest” by Bill Callahan, Maybe that’s the reason The Guardian feels that maybe, Callahan has found enlightenment, in a way, by just not resisting it. “I woke up on a 747, flying through some stock footage of heaven,” Callahan sings atop percolating arpeggios on the radiant “747,” following, ’s “Small Plane” with a trip on a very big one. Although it wears its aesthetic very well, there’s occasionally the desire for the urgency of tracks like “Bloodflow” and “Drover”.

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