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Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle

Bill Callahan

2009

Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
Album Summary

Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle is the second solo album by American musician Bill Callahan under his own name, released on April 14, 2009 via Drag City. Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle received very positive reviews from music critics and made several publications' year-end best album lists, notably being named the second best album of 2009 by Mojo magazine. In 2013, NME listed the album at number 443 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.05

Votes

8624
Genres
Country

Reviews

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Sun Mar 19 2023
2

This sounds like someone’s dad who thinks he’s a singer but can actually only carry one note got access to a recording studio and tried to record a folk album.

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Wed Mar 15 2023
5

Absolutely majestic. Post-Smog wonder.

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Wed Jun 14 2023
5

I'd never heard of Bill Callahan before today. The genre is classed as country, but that isn't the genre I heard upon listening to the album. Wikipedia has it classed more as apocalyptic folk, or doom country... Sounds like they are making up genres, but it does fit better in these categories than just straight "country". This type of music reminds me a lot of Nick Cave's more folk oriented albums. Bill's deep, slow vocal delivery brings with it feelings of gloom and despair. His phenomenal, poetic lyrics really drive these feelings home. He has a philosophical quality to his music. A few examples of deep lyrics include: 1) From the song Eid Ma Clack Shaw (about the death of someone close to him) : Love is the king of the beasts, And when it gets hungry it must kill to eat 2) From the song All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast (The eagle is depression and anxiety, and when he shows up all the smaller birds (good thoughts) fly off): The leafless tree looked like a brain, The birds within were all the thoughts and desires within me, Hoppin' around from branch to branch, Or snug in their nests listenin' in, An eagle came over the horizon, And shook the branches with its sight, The softer thoughts: Starlings, finches and wrens, The softer thoughts, they all took flight Overall, this was an amazingly deep album which was a lot to digest. Thankfully, none of the songs overstay their welcome. I listened to it twice today: once for the lyrics, and the second time for the musical accompaniment. An absolute classic of a record. I will definately listen again. I will say, you have to be in a gold head space in order to enjoy this record. It is very heavy and dark, but if you are open to it, it is absolutely beautiful. Favourite songs: My Friend, Rococo Zephyr, Too Many Birds, Jim Cain, All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast, Eid Ma Clack Shaw Least favourite songs: Invocation of Ratiocination 5/5

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Sat May 06 2023
5

Prog country - which I didn't know existed before! Really interesting and enjoyable, although it's tricky to pick out a best song as it works best as a single piece. Loved it!

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Wed Mar 15 2023
3

I wasn't completely blown away, but the tracks were all well composed and never overstayed their welcome. Highlight for me was 'All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast' - a great track with an equally great title.

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View Author
Mon Jun 26 2023
4

Sad cowboy folk? A much more interesting take on the country genre than the fifty "yeehaw pardner we don't like yer kind in Tennessee (banjo solo)" albums I've had to listen to. Reminds me of Nick Cave's "Ghosteen". They both even have a horse in an ethereal environment on the cover. Yeah, I really like this. 4/5

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Wed Mar 29 2023
1

Lost the will to live halfway through the first song. When hillbillies think they're deep.

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Sat Jul 08 2023
5

I love Smog, and I'm pretty sure Bill Callahan has written and performed many gems during his subsequent career under his real name--I've been checking him out once in a while, just like you get news from a former good friend you don't see so much anymore, just to make sure he's alright. But I'd be lying if I said I knew the contents of his "solo" records by heart. So I guess it's nice that this app reminds me of him now... I'll stop beating about the bush, this album is excellent. "Jim Cain" is a perfect Callhanesque melancholic opener. "Eid Ma Clack Shaw" is the sort of surprising groovy cut Bill dabbles with sometimes, bringing welcome energy to the early part of the tracklist. "The Wind And The Dove" is a chiaruscuro wonder where the oriental flourishes and minor chords of the verses provide a stark contrast to the sudden major illuminations gracing the rest of the song. "Rococo Zephyr" is a subtle and touching love song. "Too Many Birds"'s finale provides a sort of gentle epiphany only Callahan is capable (the way the final line of the song is built up from one word from the next over that enticing piano hook at the end of each measure is a stroke of genius). "My Friend" is a mid-tempo oddity that's both tense and joyful, oddly enough (love the female wordless minimalistic backing vocals on that !). "All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast" is the experimental centerpiece of the album, a long dirge that uses the metaphor of birds on trees to go inside Callahan's psyche. And after a short instrumental interlude comes the baroque 10-minute closer of the album, the Nietzschean, yet paradoxically soulful, "Faith/Void". In this track, as in many other ones in this LP, the strings section and other lush instrumentation backing Callahan do wonders (that weird melodica at the end!). What's so surprising, in this song as well as other long ones Bill wrote elsewhere, is how time fly by while you listen to them. The American songwriter knows how to put his audience in a meditative state like few of his colleagues can. The only issue that could prevent me from giving five stars to this record is that as great as Bill Callahan is, I have a feeling his records (and some of his songs) are often interchangeable. Which is a problem for a list of "essential" LPs. Which one do you choose, in the end? Maybe 2022's "REALITY" could apply as well? But you can't cram everything in, can you? Wise and world-weary Callahan would probably laugh those vacuous concerns about a "best albums" list away, though. He's too much into the immanent moment to care about such neurotic endeavors. And he's right. So in that spirit, I guess my final grade doesn't matter that much... Number of albums left to listen to: approximately 500 (I've temporarely lost count here). Number of albums I'll include on my list: a half so far, approximately (including this one) Number of albums I *might* include; a quarter approximately. Number of albums I will never include (many others are more important): another quarter.

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Thu May 18 2023
5

hauntingly beautiful I need to hear more of his stuff 10/10

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Tue Mar 14 2023
4

Pleasant voice. Slow entrancing music. Nothing ground breaking, but not a dime a dozen. I usually don't like this style of music, but this record was a lot better than I expected. Favorite song: Rococo Zephyr.

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View Author
Sun Mar 19 2023
4

Wow, I had not heard of Bill Callahan (or Smog). I really like his sound. And the first song is excellent. But the rest of the album... again, I like his sound, but aside from Faith, none of the other songs much caught my attention. Still, this is better than a lot of what's on the "1001 List", so I'll give it four stars. (It's better than the two Bowie albums I've been recommended so far, and I like Bowie.) I will be listening to more of Bill and Smog in the future.

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Thu May 18 2023
4

Relistened to this a few weeks ago and it’s just very lovely. All of Bill’s stuff just completely envelops you in this delicate world with his emotion-heavy voice just floating at the low end of this lush instrumentation rather than breaking above it - wonderful mixing and songwriting that always results in a soothing experience

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Sun Jun 25 2023
4

I likes this. I prefer the stuff he released as SMOG.

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Wed Nov 22 2023
4

"It's time to put God away" 🤘 It's a kinda weird album honestly, a bit love or hate probably. I'm leaning love though.

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Mon Jul 31 2023
3

I enjoyed this, even if it felt a little more theatrical than my usual tastes, but really, it just made me want to listen to a Silver Jews record.

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Fri Mar 31 2023
5

sonzao, tranquilo e tal, bem produzido, tipo um leonard cohen moderno

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Thu Jul 20 2023
5

The best artist I’ve discovered so far on the platform. His deep clear voice sounds a bit like an indie Leo Kottke, the lyrics are thought provoking, but it’s the musical arrangements that blew me away. The varied melodic syncopation has uncommon feeling and depth to it. In particular My Friend and All Thoughts are Prey to Some Beast propelled this to a 5 star album from a solid 4.

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Wed Aug 02 2023
5

At first listen Bill Callahan seems to fit in well with the songwriters of the early seventies like Townes Van Zandt, Nick Drake, and Lou Reed. It’s always refreshing to find well-composed, underground, and almost poetic music emerging in the 21st century. I can confidently say that “Jim Cain” is the most well written song we’ve gotten that (likely) none of us has ever heard, and even the very first lines are worth taking a deeper dive into. Why is he looking for the ordinary, as opposed to the extraordinary? Things don’t turn out as planned, but how do things end? Callahan’s songs take on a variety of experimental lyrical structures, such as the pyramid buildup in the back half of “Too Many Birds” and the well-placed repetition in “Faith/Void.” But more significantly, they invoke a variety of images in our minds. “All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast” is a stroll through the Columbia River Gorge while an angry Pacific storm brews out west. “Invocation of Ratiocination” is an eerily still midnight on the usually gusty Dakota plains. “Rococo Zephyr” is a warm breeze over whichever backyard creek makes you most yearn for the carefree days of youth. Stylistically, the album is a crossover between mid-career Beatles (particularly “Eleanor Rigby” from Revolver and “Blue Jay Way” from Magical Mystery Tour) and Transformer by Lou Reed. Bill Callahan’s lyrics are as rich as any and go far beyond most on even this list. I’d never heard of Callahan or anything by him, but I’ll definitely take a look at his catalog. I’m not sure if he found what he was looking for on his search for ordinary things, but with this album he’s certainly given us something more than ordinary.

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Fri Aug 04 2023
5

Fascinating, compelling, emotional. Strong Nick Drake resemblance.

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Thu Sep 07 2023
5

Was quite excited to get this, as I am a strong casual fan and have not heard this in full. Some of his loveliest work on here, I think, and I'll probably add it to the collection. Jim Cain is exquisite, Eid Ma Clack Shaw poignantly funny, Faith/Void masterful. 2 listens, purchased and 5*

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Sun Oct 15 2023
5

Phenomenal album! Reminds me a lot of silver jews but a bit more happy

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Wed Oct 18 2023
5

I was hooked from the first sounds. The songwriting is gloriously clever, the instrumentation is a fantastic accompaniment to the themes of each song, and the album as a whole is a really good concept. Also goodness, I wasn't familiar with Bill Callahan coming into this, but I'm a fan. What an awesome bass-baritone voice.

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Fri Oct 20 2023
5

Unexpectedly kinda liked this one and also vibed with the following Spotify radio.

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Tue Oct 31 2023
5

Oh my god how calm it is. I love this.

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Wed Jan 10 2024
5

I wasn’t into it at first but then I was

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Wed Jan 10 2024
5

this is smog! it's a super enjoyable album

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Mon Jan 15 2024
5

Absolutely perfect from first sound to last music. 5/5

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Thu Jan 18 2024
5

This is just a brilliant album. Song after song are memorable, simple melodies, beautifully performed. Some similarities in places with, among others, Nick Drake, Richard Hawley, Sun Kil Moon. The standard is high throughout. Strongly recommended

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Thu Jan 25 2024
5

This was outstanding. Dark. Melodic. One of the more emotional singers I have ever heard. I will be revisiting this and his catalog.

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Sun Jan 28 2024
5

This was a trippy album to listen to. Vocals were monotone but in a pleasing way? The lyrics were beautiful if only a little repetitive but it never got annoying. It just pulled you in to a trance and kind of slowed everything down.

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Thu Feb 01 2024
5

I loved this it was wonderful

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Mon Feb 05 2024
5

Had never heard of this guy. ?Alt-country. Really love the tone of his voice and the quality of the recording. Deceptively someone but well executed. The last two tracks aren't as good as the others. The penultimate track seems like a complete throwaway. Will be listening to this again and will try other album by this artist.

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Wed Feb 07 2024
5

Via deze lijst krijg je een hoop voor je kiezen. Interessant, leuk, vervelend, verrassend, herrie, saai, gaaf... Dat soort termen gebruik ik wekelijks meerdere keren, maar de muziek die ik via deze lijst beluister is zelden 'mooi'. Sterker nog, ik heb na 367 albums pas 3 keer een album mooi genoemd. Wat is het dan fijn als de muziek op een album eens een keer gewoon mooi is. Een lekker diepe stem en een zangstijl die haast vertellend is, maar toch is het ook wel echt gezongen. Lastig te omschrijven. Het doet denken aan Nick Cave, maar het komt een stuk minder depressief en een stuk warmer over. Een soort stoner folk. Lekkere strijkers, af en toe een lieve vrouwenstem, een lekker breed en vol stereo geluid, fantastische productie. De instrumenten komen allemaal tot hun recht en de zang sluit er goed bij aan. Ik vermoed dat ik deze vaker ga aanzetten en ik denk dat dit wel eens dé ontdekking van deze lijst van 2024 kan zijn voor mij. 5 sterren.

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Wed Feb 07 2024
5

Blown away by this one. Wasn't expecting much but songs I'm excited to hear again!

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Tue Feb 20 2024
5

Yeah, this is something special. Warm and sad and kind

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Wed Mar 15 2023
4

I could probably have lived a good life without listening to this. But I’m glad I don’t have to. I was never completely blown away by this, but I quickly fell into a trance-like state where only Callahan’s voice and compositions existed. The songs are rather sparse, emotional, a bit droning and often gives off a feeling of existential dread. This had somehow avoided me until now but I’m certain I’ll look into more releases from his hand.

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Thu Mar 16 2023
4

There’s something familiar and unique about this album. Perhaps it’s Callaghan’s Leonard Cohenesque voice. Instrumentally in feels like an album from the 2000’s indie scene. This is a really surprising and enjoyable record for me.

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Thu Mar 16 2023
4

Beautiful calming folk rock compositions with a rustic soothing voice. Found something I liked out of every track. Especially liked the atmospheric strings and punchy drums. Little complaints here. Favorites: Jim Cain, Eid Ma, Too Many Birds, All Thoughts are Prey to Some Beast, Faith/Void

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Mon Mar 20 2023
4

Country alternativo, folk. Curioso. Un 4.

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Tue Mar 21 2023
4

I wasn’t sure what to expect but this is really good

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Thu Apr 27 2023
4

This may be the unusual release that is great but does not make the list. To some, Bill Callahan's voice is a negative. I find his deep drawl soothing and perfectly suited to the uniformly excellent material. The instrumentation is both varied and impressive throughout. Many may find the material grave, but I find it lived in. I am not sure this is my favorite Bill Callahan disc - I think the honors go to Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest. Nonetheless, a great listen, four-star release that likely falls off my list.

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Thu Apr 27 2023
4

I’ve listened to some Smog before but I don’t think I’ve heard Callahan’s self titled stuff. This is pretty pared down, almost trance-like at times. Reminded me of Willie Nelson a bit. You could argue it gets a bit dull but I think the song writing is strong and ultimately it’s a really nice album to listen to.

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Fri Apr 28 2023
4

I'd never heard of him, but really liked this.

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Sun Apr 30 2023
4

Surprisingly doomy for a country record, I like this a lot.

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Sun Apr 30 2023
4

I absolutely loved the moody vibes of this album, and his frank vocal delivery. I just wish it had a bit more variety and energy to its pacing. This is just barely shy of a 5 for me.

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Mon May 08 2023
4

Rating: 8/10 Best songs: Jim cain, Eid ma clack shaw, The wind and the dove

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Sun May 14 2023
4

He's not exactly breaking any new ground, but it was pleasant and relaxing and sometimes clever. Best track: Too Many Birds

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Sun May 14 2023
4

nice and deep and he can craft an allusive phrase

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Wed May 31 2023
4

I like it, a very personal listen, Bill Callahan's voice is almost hypnotic. This album needs to be listened to a number of times to fully appreciate I think.

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Wed Jun 07 2023
4

first listen a singer-poet who sounds like steven wright

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Thu Jun 08 2023
4

Onbekend, maar niet onbemind! Prachtig.

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Fri Jun 09 2023
4

Un álbum de folk muy sólido. Melancólico y cálido, con letras interesantes y paisajes sonoros irresistibles. Un disco que se puede escuchar más de una vez, tanto como música de acompañamiento de actividades o para captar completamente tu atención.

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Wed Jun 14 2023
4

A near masterpiece from the late 00s. With his baritone voice Callahan grows from the lo-fi approach of Smog to a more personal and developed music. Sometimes you feel him so close it hurts. His particular sense of humour somehow makes the album stronger. Hope always defies despair

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Tue Jun 27 2023
4

What a voice and what a fantastic group of songs - as good as anything he's done before or since.

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Wed Jun 28 2023
4

Prefer his previous album, but this is still great. Does every singer songwriter post 1990 have a "Nick Drake" phase?

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Wed Jul 05 2023
4

I’ve tried to listen to this before but gave up. I really enjoyed it this time round. The production and string arrangements are really pleasing.

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Sun Jul 09 2023
4

Enjoyable voice and a good time

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Thu Jul 20 2023
4

truly beautiful. The songwriting is heartwrenching and gorgeous. lush and full instrumentation and mixing. best tracks: Eid Ma Clack Shaw, Too Many Birds, Roccoco Zephyr

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Sun Jul 30 2023
4

I really enjoyed this album. The alt-county/folk music is supplemented by a phenomenal and lush arrangement that lends a grandeur to the album. Bill Callahan's baritone speak singing style is arresting and demands attention though I see why some find it off putting. The result is an expansive record full of idiosyncrasies and very interesting musical and vocal choices. It is definitely an album that I need to return to so I can really make up my mind.

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Wed Aug 02 2023
4

The lyrics tend to be cryptic but still seem profound and the vocals, while maybe not technically gifted, are very pleasant. He’s no Bob Dylan but he’s got those two things going for him. Pleasantly surprised

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Fri Aug 11 2023
4

If anyone in Indie-dom has a more sonorous and deep voice I haven't heard them yet. I've liked Callahan since his Smog days, and he continues here with his fractured, intimate and poignant style of singing and song-writing here. I would compare him to other highly regarded American Indie Artists such as Andrew Bird, Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon, Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, and maybe also Sufjan Stevens - albeit his voice is the polar opposite of Stevens' almost fragile, whisper-like musings. I don't see any other Smog or Callahan albums on this list so I'll round it up a bit.

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Sat Aug 12 2023
4

This was really good. Great songs, great voice. And an album I'll put back on when the weather gets colder and the fire goes up.

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Sun Aug 13 2023
4

I always enjoy going into these albums completely unaware as to what to expect, and I was not disappointed with this one. Shades of Leonard Cohen.

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Mon Aug 14 2023
4

Reading the description before I read it, I thought "man am I gonna hate this" - very open-minded, I know. But....the music gets me right away; it's gentle and simple, slowly meandering, but something/s in it are immediately infectious. Ok the singing. I'll say that his voice is...unorthodox. And after just once sentence I was thinking "o boy here we go..." but it works, and fits perfectly with the music. Take the lead track "Jim Cain" - ah, it sounds so stupid writing about how a song sounds or makes you feel if you think about it for like 3 seconds - but this song is like a soundtrack for a slow-motion wide-open panorama, driving or flying over the north american rocky mountains or floating down a river. Immediate images that were put into my head upon hearing it. ... so yes, back to his voice or rather "the vocals" (because it's more the dry and up-front style of recording that's the primary aural landing point, rather than "his voice" per se) - it can be really off-putting at times. It's just ... unusual - but it fits. And since I first wrote that, I've listened 2x more and it is just part of the music for me now. This is throwing me though: I just read someone comparing him to Leonard Cohen which now I'm going to have to re-evaluate my entire existence due to the fact that Leonard Cohen is on my permanent no-fly-list so now how can I go on. Dammit no. Seriously tho his vocals remind me more of a better Canadian: Mendelson Joe. Worst cut: "Faith/Void" - not due to the lyrics (because i completely agree) but <pun alert> JESUS ok ok yes it is time to put god thusly stated roughly 78 times so goddamned <2nd pun!> laconically. The music is so nice and would have been a great instrumental at half the length to gently fade the album out, instead it was a bad misstep. Anyways - against all odds overall I like it quite a bit. I think more than it's just "different" but the music is at once accessible yet not simple. Excellent and detailed arrangements. It's not for everyone, it won't even be for me that often, but I will definitely listen to this again. ....but boy do I know someone who is gonna *hate* this ... :D 7/10 4 stars

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Fri Sep 01 2023
4

Solid, not sure I'd put this ahead of his Smog output

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Tue Sep 05 2023
4

la radio de l’album 💆‍♀️

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Wed Sep 06 2023
4

I loved the vocals on this one unlike others here. The instrumentals were beautiful and perfect for a sunny morning. Soolid album, which based on the cover art I didnt think Id like.

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Tue Sep 12 2023
4

This was interesting. I kinda like it.

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Thu Sep 14 2023
4

This record is great. It doesn't prevent me from frequently mixing up Bill Callahan with Will Oldham, but it helps. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Fri Sep 15 2023
4

Musical identity here is flitting; Callahan's voice arrives with force for the familiar and, one assumes, the new. So it makes sense that the melodies cradling it stretch to five minutes and feel like two. The subject's somewhere in America, and that's both un- and important: Maneuvers over the album are sufficient motivation.

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Sun Oct 01 2023
4

Listened to the first half during the day doing errands and didn’t get it. Listened to the second half at night just sitting around and loved it.

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Mon Oct 09 2023
4

Good album! I skimmed through the last song (Faith/Void), it's super long and repetitive. Important to the album's story of processing through a hard breakup, but for me the album would have been improved by shortening or cutting that one.

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Thu Oct 12 2023
4

Big surprise, knew it would be good, but also expected boring - saw Callahan once in Prague 21 years ago doing a solo concert, and quite a few Smog songs that sounded great on album did not hold up. Might be the case with this collection as well, but on the album they all sound great apart from Faith/Void, which is ok but a bit dull even with tasteful instrumentation. favourite song: Too Many Birds + Eid Ma Clack Shaw (but the latter could simply be as it is Psycho Killer in disguise :-) ). overall score: 8/10 (classic Smog would be 9/10 or 10/10, but perhaps the comparison to older work, with different song structures, is a bit unfair for an artist that has simply made too much high-quality music over the years to keep track of)

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Wed Oct 18 2023
4

Sounded a lot like Swans. Surprisingly genuine.

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Thu Nov 02 2023
4

This album has a magical feel to it

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Mon Nov 06 2023
4

thunka thunka cowboy songs. His voice reminds me a little of josh ritter's though. I like the music a lot! 4 stars.

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