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Bill Callahan, Lights, Neil Morgan

The artist formerly known as Smog, Bill Callahan used to churn out lo-fi four-track cassettes mostly about sitting alone in his room, mumbling in a distracted croak over amp noise and loops, sour guitars, and freeform song structures—great, morbid stuff, and he had a sly sense of humor about it.

Further down the road, however, Callahan has pushed an intensely personal roots-folk-country thing onto heavier turf, as in 2007's Woke on a Whaleheart, where he revealed himself as a songwriter of deftly off-the-cuff poetics and keen observational skill in impeccably drawn shades of densely coiled Americana. Amid rather lush and widescreen instrumental settings that frame his beautifully plain baritone, Callahan's new Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle is even weightier for its sweet, poignant reflections centered around a theme of sorts: Things used to be dark, then things lightened up, now things are getting dark again—but he's come to an understanding with the darkness.


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