Smog lifted, Callahan's lively storytelling inspires wonder
For two decades, Bill Callahan has been a musical shape-shifter, mostly working under the cloak of his Smog moniker until the release of 2007’s exuberant Woke on a Whaleheart. Continuing undisguised on his latest album, Callahan offers full, round songs of easy beauty that wax and wane around his viscous baritone. On “All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast,” electrocution punctuates the narrative progression, the song’s intimations exerting a surprising gravity. Callahan uses first-person narrators on Eagle as he often did as Smog, but now enlivens their stories with wrenching, wonderful sentiments: Protagonists divorce themselves from God, plead for painful memories to be cleaved from their consciousnesses and long for the return of “sweet desire and soft thoughts.” Eagle is the ultimate cohesion of Callahan’s singular storytelling and bewitching delivery.