Bill Callahan – Dream River
★★★(out of 5 stars)
Look, Dream River, with its stunted eight-song offering, isn’t going to make you burst the way Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle did, but its songs – which smile more than the songwriter ever does – are a gentler channeling of his genius. Here, as promised, he is more soulful, utilizing low flutes to quietly accent loaded lyrics like, “All I want to do/ is make love/ to you/ with a careless mind” on “Spring.” But my favorite moments will always be tied to his staggered delivery of poetic lines like, “My eyes are still forming/ the door I walk through” or the more muted acoustic buildup to animalistic revelations on songs like “Ride My Arrow.” While brief, the album is another excellent addition to 2013’s generous catalog, and the album art, with its yard sale painting of a mountain landscape and that Louis L’Amour font, is almost too perfect alongside the thick brushstrokes of each song. Also recommended: NPR’s idyllic “Small Plane” video from their Field Recordings series.