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Bill Callahan

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Biography

After almost 20 years using the alias Smog for his music, Bill Callahan switched to his given name for his releases after 2005's A River Ain't Too Much to Love. The 2007 EP Diamond Dancer and full-length Woke on a Whaleheart both mixed the intimate, reflective, largely acoustic sound of later Smog albums like Supper and A River with gospel, soul, and pop elements, and boasted arrangements by former Royal Trux mastermind Neil Hagerty. For 2009's Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, Callahan returned to the more intimate acoustic-based sound of latter-era Smog albums, featuring string and brass arrangements by Brian Beattie. The live album Rough Travel for a Rare Thing arrived in March 2010, and in July Callahan issued his 79-page "epistolary novelette" Letters to Emma Bowlcut, comprised of 62 letters from a nameless protagonist to a woman he saw at a party. Callahan kicked off 2011 with Apocalypse, a more uptempo collection of seven country- and blues-inspired rock tunes that recalled some of his edgier work with Smog. A softer offering, Dream River, was issued in the fall of 2013. The next year Have Fun with God surfaced, remixing the eight tracks of Dream River in more haunted and electronic styles. That year, he also published I Drive a Valence, a collection of his drawings and lyrics from throughout his career, and married photographer/filmmaker Hanly Banks. He and Banks had a son in 2015, and his mother died in 2018. During that time, Callahan continued to work on music and tour; late in 2018, the concert album Live at Third Man appeared. He returned in June 2019 with Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, a flowing, confessional set of songs recorded with guitarist Matt Kinsey and engineer Brian Beattie. ~ Heather Phares
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