Album review: Bill Callahan, Dream River (Drag City)

  • @simmyrichman

Callahan’s fifth album under his own name in the eight years since the Smog lifted, sounds precisely as you might expect it to: drily humorous but essentially dark lyrics, delivered in that trademark detached baritone, while instruments from flutes to violins flitter fittingly (never a note out of place) in the background.

Though his appeal remains frustratingly specialist, with each release it becomes clearer that Callahan is the natural successor to Leonard Cohen (yup, that good) and so, perhaps, the wider appeal that still eludes him will come with the passing of the years. In the meantime, the perfection of lyrics such as “The only words I’ve said today/ Are ‘beer’/ And ‘thank you’” remain private poetic pleasures.