Who: After almost 20 years behind Smog for his music, Bill Callahan has had his name on the spine now for five solo records.
Sound: Singer/songwriter with level baritone. Fans of Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Sun Kill Moon and Nick Cave will enjoy.
TFN Final Take: Are you ready for Bill Callahan to tell you his next set of stories? You better be because not only is Callahan one of the best storytellers of this time and Shepherd In Sheepskin Vest tells how life really is and you know Bill means it. Since his last excellent record, Dream River (2013), was released; Callahan got married, had a son and dealt with the passing of his mother in 2018. Those three life events alone give Bill all the material he needs here for his fifth solo outing.
With his strong baritone delivery, Callahan can easily make everything and everyone around you disappear as he sort of talks you through his situations. On Shepherd, Bill does this with shorter tracks than previous albums but still gives you over an hour of material to absorb. He also takes his time with each word and on occasion will shock you a bit when he drops in some quick profanity that treats you like you are his best friend. Clearly his comfort level is up and his guard is down with these 20 tracks. This makes every song so personal and real that you can’t help but immerse yourself.
If you have been a Callahan fan over the years, Shepherd is another must for your collection. This record also has the ability to make new followers instantly because its structure is so engaging. So, as Bill sings on “What Comes After Certainty” – “Hey good lookin’, what you got cookin’?” – You can reply “a whole lot” and experience this timeless record again and again!
Bill Callahan Website
Drag City Records
-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony
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