Album: Bill Callahan

Woke on a Whaleheart , DRAG CITY
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The Independent Culture

The cyclical nature of life absorbs Bill Callahan on this debut solo album - though not primarily in the paired tracks "Day" and "Night", more concerned with surmounting venality and temptation in order to improve society, bit by bit: "A small potato in the blight/ Still strives towards the light," he notes. It may be an illusion, but he seems more anchored and content among the metaphors of birth and decay, evaporation and precipitation, and the revolutions of the Great Wheel Of Life "driving bad deeds six feet deep". There's less ambivalence underlying the notion in "Diamond Dancer" of doing something with such total absorption that it effects a physical change in you, as in the girl dancing so hard that she "danced herself into a diamond". Musically, Callahan has ceded ultimate control here to Neil Michael Hagerty, who locates pretty much the appropriate style - from Johnny Cash-style trotting strum, to tack-piano stomp, brittle new-wave brio to sinister Twin Peaks twang, pizzicato strings to poppy organ - for each song.