Bill Callahan – Dream River Bill Callahan – Dream River

Bill Callahan - Dream River (2013)

Bill Callahan – Dream River (2013)

I wish I could build a fire.

I wish I could build a fire in the pine woods by the lake where my father spent his summers learning to scale trout and flirt with soft, forgotten girls, naked under the light of an august moon.

I wish I could build a fire and sit down beside her with a Dobro in my lap, playing absent melodies against the crackle and lonesome gloaming, a hound at my feet, a half bottle of Williams I take neat and with easy routine and the trees rustling “Fall in, fall in with me.”

But I can’t.

That’s not my history and – frankly – nothing at all like the man I am so I’ll resign my wishes to the snaking shimmer of Bill Callahan and his recent study of American absence, Dream River.

A passing glance on smoky ether, Dream River is a record that easily slips into the short end of a fall day like spiced rum and black tea sipped quietly in a holey, beloved sweater with guitars that sigh and pang the last light of the coming wilderness with a certainty and solace that borders on the ethereal. Mercifully (or infuriatingly, as any given time might determine) that six string space is punctuated by lounge bones, bongos, flutes, violin and the slow basement thread of Callahan’s baritone.

It is an acquired taste and one I’ve taken years to let in but on this frail and shivering evening it fits the shape of life just fine. Melancholic and imbued with the transplanted wisdom of a metropolitan man, expatriated and looking out into the dust, rubbing his chin and thinking “Yup.” before returning to his stately cabin to scribble fractured idioms for men whose lives are led like Zen koans for middle management and keep their conference laminates in a god box under the bed.

Tomorrow I might find it infuriating, likely will. I have little patience for a nonlinear Steinbeck set in the clean air of an early Waits take, playing against patience with absent, accented abstractions but goddamn if I don’t wish I were in Matamoras, PA right now, again with the bridal party drinking Old Times at the hotel bar and Danny’s intoning “Brandy, You’re a Fine Girl” while the carnies pile in and the geese peck at the windows with hate and the free, stale popcorn stains my suit and I’ve lost my date to an urban recluse and I can reckon safely that there is still joy left to be found in America.

It just might be madness.

Dream River Tracklist:

01 The Sing
02 Javelin Unlanding
03 Small Plane
04 Spring
05 Ride My Arrow
06 Summer Painter
07 Seagull
08 Winter Road

Bill Callahan - Dream River, reviewed by Charles on 2013-12-03T12:06:41-08:00 rating 3.4 out of 5

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