Bill Callahan has lost his Smog monikor and "Woke On A Whaleheart" is his debut solo album. It includes the single "Diamond Dancer". Reminding one of the earlier days of Smog, Woke has elements of lo fi, country, soul, blues and of course Bill's super dry sense of humour ( see "A woman needs a woman or a man to be a man"). This album rates as one of Bill's best. The songwriting is as strong as his work on 2005's "A River Ain't Too Much To Love" or other greats like Knock Knock or Red Apple Falls. Bill opened for Joanna Newsom in January and played a few of his own (sell out) shows. He sold his melbourne and sydney shows in a few days and plans to return later in the year. Until then climb aboard this whale and get the ride of your life!
Woke on a Whaleheart
finds longtime lo-fi pioneer Bill Callahan stepping out under his own name for the first time from behind his nearly 20-year alias known simply as (Smog)--with or without the parentheses depending on the era. This new liberation hardly finds the songwriter indulging in solo album bombast (not surprising, since Smog was essentially a one-man project the whole time). Instead, Bill Callahan keeps his feet firmly on the artsy-pop ground. A haunting circular piano propels "Night" as if on an aerial starlit breeze, and "Diamond Dancer" could be an Ashes to Ashes
-era David Bowie track, if the Thin White Duke handed vocals over to Lou Reed or the Jazz Butcher. Instrumentation is soothingly unobtrusive, and Callahan's conversational vocals are so relaxed, they occasionally threaten to fade away like a wisp of smoke. Oddly, his most impassioned singing comes on the country-shuffling "The Wheel," which turns a blues call-and-response on its ear, preceding sung lines with the same line spoken-word, as if Callahan is reminding himself of which lyrics come next. Make no mistake though--Bill Callahan knows exactly what he's doing, and Woke on a Whaleheart
is a fine and fulfilling listen. --Ben Heege