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Woke On a Whaleheart

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Editors’ Notes

Bill Callahan’s songs are like movies where the camera angle is slightly askew and the narrative gets lost to the quirks of the characters. Though dropping the Smog alias he’s recorded under since 1990, Callahan hasn’t changed his approach for this 13th album, but continues with the same lyrically intense and musically unvarnished indie-folk rock that make his lyrics sound both dire and comforting. “From the Rivers to the Ocean” includes violins and keyboards that in another’s hands would sound lush and grand, but here sandwiched between the raw slab of drums and Callahan’s unpretty voice it sounds like it belongs in a cardboard box in the attic. It’s this unsentimental bluntness that’s made Callahan an eyebrow-raiser in the past. Here, he tries a few dance moves. “Footprints” and “Diamond Dancer” have the ingredients to groove, but the rhythms deliberately halt to create an otherworldly alienation. Country music is also skewered (“The Wheel,” “A Man Needs a Woman Or a Man To Be A Man”) with clopping beats and Callahan’s detached innocent bystander vocal delivery again creating a palpable detachment. 

Customer Reviews

Never Going to Run Dry

These are songs to live by. "I will never see rivers the same again." Susie said about his last album "A River Ain't Too Much to Love". More on that theme here, yet with new depth and ripple that is per usual with Mr. Callahan, as he always seems to change it up a bit from one release to the next. The production value on "Woke On a Whaleheart" is really great, layers of intstruments and plenty of driving rythms, yet still with enough space left over for his powerfull voice to come through as strong as ever. This one comes highly recomended. Grab up "Taken" off of the "Diamond Dancer EP" as well for another great track.

callahan solidiefies himself...

likes of townes van zandt, merle haggard,rennie sparks , and bob dylan as one of the greatest songwriters of this or any era with this amazing and possibly peerless album.

one of those...

I saw Sir Callahan in concert due to the urging a good friend... and I have never been less disappointed. I had no extra cash that nite, but I had to buy this album as soon as I could. The lyrics to Sycamore are enough of a reason, and his rich honey-butter voice only sweetens the deal.


Born: 1966 in Silver Spring, MD

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After almost 20 years of using the alias Smog for his music, Bill Callahan switched to his given name for his releases after 2005's A River Ain't Too Much to Love. The 2007 EP Diamond Dancer and full-length Woke on a Whaleheart both mixed the intimate, reflective, largely acoustic sound of later Smog albums like Supper and A River with gospel, soul, and pop elements, and boasted arrangements by former Royal Trux mastermind Neil Hagerty. For 2009's Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, Callahan returned...
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