You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.


Bill Callahan, ‘Dream River’

Within three seconds of Bill Callahan’s new album, the sound of a gorgeous pedal steel seeps into the opening song. It wails like a wordless cry, setting the sumptuous tone of “Dream River,” Callahan’s fourth studio album under his own name since dispensing with the moniker Smog. With eight songs that unfurl to 40 minutes, it’s impeccably crafted and plays off a mercurial tension between Callahan’s voice — a parched yet resonant baritone — and the lush arrangements that envelop it. These songs have soul, drive; even when they spiral into psychedelic visions (dig those flute interludes all over the record), Callahan sounds like an assured storyteller. He’s conjuring the same spare, desert-folk beauty he introduced on recent releases “Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle” (2009) and “Apocalypse” (2011). But he’s also getting closer to capturing the direct simplicity of great songwriters like Kris Kristofferson and Mickey Newbury, both of whom are influences. “The only words I said today are ‘beer’ and ‘thank you,’ ” Callahan deadpans on “The Sing.” So simple but so telling. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “Javelin Unlanding”

Bill Callahan performs at the Sinclair on Oct. 5.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of