Bill Callahan, 'Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle' (Drag City)

Critical Mass
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by Josh Modell

Bill Callahan spent his first post-Smog disc -- 2007's Woke on a Whaleheart -- kicking too gaily against his downcast past, exploring looser sounds that didn't take. On this follow-up, he finds steadier, more familiar footing while still allowing for evolution: "Eid Ma Clack Shaw" cracks funnier and jauntier than Smog's early years would've allowed, but like most of Eagle, it's a natural progression rather than change for its own sake. More important, on bookends "Jim Cain" and the string-enhanced "Faith/Void," Callahan allows simple, graceful melancholy -- his strongest suit -- back into the mix.

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