Bill Callahan Album Review

Gold Record (Drag City)

Bill Callahan Album Review

Who is Bill Callahan? "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash," he personates amidst the opening notes of "Pigeons," where the patiently talk-singing poet inhabits an old man driving newlyweds around in a white limousine, administering wisdom: "When you are dating, you only see each other/ And the rest of us can go to hell/ But when you are married, you're married to the whole wide world." It's gold-standard lyricism from the prolific Austinite, replete with out-of-the-ordinary details and smirking wordsmithery. At the song's end, he reveals his name again: this time, "L. Cohen." For certain, the low-voiced local occupies artistic territory with Leonard, but Gold Record also spins reminiscent of Bob Dylan's summer surprise Rough and Rowdy Ways in its zoomed-out lyrical portraiture and employment of pop culture references, from Kid 'n Play to "Ry Cooder," whose ode spins one of the collection's few tossed-off moments. Last year's similarly acoustic-guitar-driven Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest delved relatively autobiographical – domestic even – but now Callahan inhabits a multitude of characters over 10 songs. "The Mackenzies" covers great existential ground through a guy finding empathy in his neighbors. "Protest Song," though, surely captures the artist in first person, playfully flexing at a phony singer on late-night TV faking realness. "Step aside son," Callahan repeats. "You're gonna get hoyt."

***.5


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Bill Callahan
Texas Platters
Bill Callahan
Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (Record Review)

Abby Johnston, June 14, 2019

Texas Platters
Bill Callahan
Dream River (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Sept. 27, 2013

More by Kevin Curtin
With “themesong” Video, Mobley Introduces Injustice-Fighting Masked Man Persona
With “themesong” Video, Mobley Introduces Injustice-Fighting Masked Man Persona
Musician & filmmaker trekked to Johannesburg to shoot latest project

May 19, 2022

Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Gus Baldwin & the Sketch, High Desert Queen, No Limit reunion, Beto y los Fairlanes, and more recommendations

May 20, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Bill Callahan

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle