Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle
Early on, when he was still calling himself Smog, indie rocker Bill Callahan buried his baritone voice beneath chugging, repetitive beats. Since he began recording under his own name, his rock drive has dissipated somewhat, but the thing that has continually made Callahan’s recordings so fascinating—a complete abhorrence of convention—hasn’t faded. Like the previous two albums he’s made since moving to Austin, in 2004, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle (Drag City) features dark, blunt lyrics that allude to transformative events. While Callahan seems to be seeking something, he doesn’t reveal what it is. Instead, he plays with us, keeping things impenetrable and off-kilter with arresting imagery, odd phrasing, weird syntax, and even absurd air horn blasts. The music is meditative, played at the tempo of a resting pulse. Beautifully arranged keyboards, cellos, violins, and French horns create the album’s primary sounds. Though trancelike, the songs are far from dull. Callahan expertly finds drama within his limited vocal range while his band routinely builds excitement in unexpected places.