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on June 4, 2005
This album is fantastic. All I can say is that Bill Callahan rarely dissapoints, and he definitely delivers again A River Ain't Much to Love. For the uninitiated, Smog has a similar vibe to The Velvet Underground, and Leonard Cohen. But don't let that distract you because this guy still maintains a great deal of originality. This album was recorded in Willie Nelson's studio, and you can definitely detect a bit of folk/country flavor on this album. The song Rock Bottom Riser is a complete standout. I would say that if you are new to Smog this as good as any point to jump in, as all of his works are pretty consistent. If you're an old fan this album will nto dissapoint, and you'll probably find this to be his best album since Dongs of Sevotion or Red Apple Falls.
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on August 18, 2005
i've been in and out of love with smog for years now. now 'A River Ain't Too Much To Love' has me convinced that this man is our generation's dylan, our cash, and our audrey hepburn. listen here, this man commands me to step into his world like the rosasharons outside my bedroom window command the honey bees to their nectar; the supply of sweet sweet honey is eternal. "with the grace of a corpse and a riptide i let go and i slide slide slide down river". if smog is already your cup of tea then you've no choice but to hang on for the ride but there's a dude on here who knock's on bill's vocals. that dude had cowpiss filling his eardrums when he threw the needle on. calahan's voice has never been more refined, more effortlessly palpable than on any other album. his words are crisp and sharp and wrapped in a bandage of unrelentless love. that dude said the first track 'Palimpset' instantly rubbed him the wrong way. that dude aparently has no soul. 'Palimpset' is bill gracefully crashing through the barrier of apathy all of you sour-nosed indie rockers and lo-fi mourners live behind. he grabs your smooth skinned hand and dips it in the mud he just waded through to get here and says listen up, i've been fumbling around love all these years and i've finally got it by the nose. i've finally got it. i saw smog play four years ago and their performance was disappointing. i saw smog play four nights ago and my girl had to prop my bottom lip up with a stick. if you are fortunate enough to find yourself before this band on stage imagine the energy on this album magnified tenfold. don't forget about jim white, dirty three drummer and smog pillar. this guy cuts the skins with such grace and subtle complexity; white is the mortar in the sound that makes up the four walls in a home you won't ever want (have) to leave. thanks, smog.
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VINE VOICEon August 10, 2005
I place this album at the top of my best of the year list. I have to be careful though, because the songs get stuck and play over and over in my head. I don't want to compare this to anyone else...it lives on it's own. Bill is a poet who knows how to invent the perfect music to get his words across. I got to witness him and his band perform this music the other night in a small smokey bar and it was just wonderful (except for the smoke). The drummer, Jim White, is one of the best in the business. Don't miss this one.
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on July 21, 2005
I have heard of Smog for years. It was two years ago that I finally saw him

play. It was in San Francisco in 2003. Cat Power was in the audience standing

next to me. I was shocked by the minimal-ness of his sound. It's storytelling

and it's the bare minimum. Bill Callahan makes the most intimate music. The

only thing that it brings to mind is the early Leonard Cohen record. It's slow

and quiet. His voice is unique and expressive enough itself. He is one of those

musicians who I think are more like a novelist than a regular musician. You

just have to sit back and listen. You have to picture in your mind the world he

describes so well in "Say Valley Maker" and "In The Pines." It's mellow

music but on songs like "The Well" things pretty intense. The speed of this song

is a little more than I am used to by Smog. This is a pretty interesting

recording.
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on September 8, 2006
I love Smog. Smog is original to himself and has a sort of unpretentious tenderness that only he can get away with. His voice is different and even when being simple he is complex. makes you feel the isolation and tenderness of life. life. generally speaking. starts off with palimpsest- a song that makes you feel like we do understand eachother. " why is everybody looking at me like there's something fundamentally wrong. like I'm a southern bird, that went north to long. with winter exposes the nests and I'm gone." not to make this review into some piece to listen the emotions of this album. But I feel like Smog expresses something that no one else can. Using simple melodies Smog can still keep a song interesting. unique voice. touches a dark warm spot. sult innocent introspection. rock bottom riser, rock bottom riser, and say valley maker best songs. a humanship that we understand when we search. lively humbleness and realization. raw yet together thoughts, like someone self assured is speaking from the heart. in touch with nature album. truly amazing.
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on April 12, 2013
Man, oh man. This album is unreal. A River Ain't Too Much To Love is Callahan's first pretty straight forward country record, a sound he's kept pretty much in tact ever since. The whole thing is somber and delicate, but bursts of melody shine through on each track and (more importantly) Bill's gut-wrenchingly brutal lyrics are here in full-swing. Tracks like Say Valley Maker, Drinking at the Dam, and Let Me See the Colts are breathtaking, but like any good record, every song is worthy of praise and, as a whole, A River... is quite the experience.

Play the record on a spring or summer's day and it will leave life-long impressions. The only way it sounds any better is filtered through nostalgia.
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on February 24, 2006
This album goes brilliantly with a bottle of red wine.

Fantastic simple guitar work and some wry lyrics.

Highlights: The Well; In the Pines
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on May 14, 2006
'a river ain't too much' is the kind of album that creeps up on you. At first it seems that there's not much to it. Simple strummed guitar parts, dead pan delivery, the mood is low key, rather than lo fi. After a few plays this changes and you realize this is the closest you'll get to johnny cash now he's no longer with us. The songs feel personal and revealing. And though the overall mood is some what melancholic, there's no little humor there too....
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on April 5, 2006
I would have thought that at some point his sparse, minimal style would run out of steam. I'd be wrong. Turns out that when you have amazing lyrics and a voice perfectly suited for those words it goes a long, long way.

Occasionally some people just don't click with his voice, but then some people didn't click with Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen's voice either.

Just listen to a few clips - that's all it takes.
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on July 14, 2005
Napoleon once replied to his wife :"I have the right to answer all accusations against me with an eternal 'That's Me.' I am apart from all the world and accept conditions from nobody. I demand subjection even to my fancies, and people should find it quite natural when I yield to this or that distraction".
People who diss Callahan are rather pathetic.Don't even bother to ignore those f**ktards.
Go buy A River Ain't Too Much To Love, instead.
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