Bill Callahan – Dream River
If Bill Callahan were on Facebook, his status would most likely say ‘In A Relationship’. His last album, Apocalypse, was born on the road with songs about being alone in hotel rooms. Here, too, he’s on a journey, but it’s more a journey of the mind. And this time you’d be forgiven for thinking that he’s found some companionship and that he’s happy that way. “I like it when I take the controls from you, And when you take the controls from me”, he sings on ‘Small Plane’, “I really am a lucky man”. And on the closer, ‘Winter Road’, again he’s travelling. “World spinning heavy and slow, And I’m headed home, Time itself means nothing, But time spent with you”. Yet life as Bill Callahan’s partner, as previous ones might attest, probably isn’t always straightforward. “You looked like worldwide armageddon while you slept …”, he sings on ‘Javelin Unlanding’. Not always what a girl expects to hear. But the thought is soon clarified. “… You looked so peaceful, you scare me”, he says, and all is well again. But we should be wary of taking Bill Callahan too literally. He’s a consummate storyteller. When he tells us he’s sitting in a bar and that “the only words I said today are ‘Beer’ and ‘Thank you'”, we can well believe him. But the chances are that it’s a tale as tall as ‘Summer Painter’, which he presents as the story of a summer job he had painting boats. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether he’s really journeying or just imagining. The words on a Bill Callahan album are always worth listening to. “The eagle flies using the river as a map, A small animal in its clasp, Alive and enjoying the ride”. And what a great ride.