Bill Callahan’s intent was to make Dream River the last record that people would listen to at the end of their day. Going on some of his past works and reputation for being a master of misery, people may envisage this is because they would be too low to get up and put another record on, but in this case Callahan wanted the listener to feel smooth and relaxed with Dream River acting as the perfect end to the day.
The recording and intent of Dream River may have seen a change of pace for Callahan but it hasn’t meant he would trade in his signature baritone and dispassionate vocal or the steady and simple chord progressions of his tunes. What he has done is built on the lushness of recent releases with fiddle, flute and liberal use of the clave.
Callahan rarely puts his foot on the accelerator although Javelin Unlanding is about as jaunty as he has been for some time. Small Plane settles the pace as Callahan reflects on the smaller moments in life to realise his own luck.
Whether you would choose to have Dream River as the typical way to wind out your day probably says more about you than it does about Callahan, but what is hard to dispute is that Dream River continues to see the Maryland singer build some more concise moments to his absorbing catalogue.
Rating: 4 stars
_ CHRIS HAVERCROFT