The Lowdown: A person will get married, turns into a father, and the best way he seems to be on the world is altered. It’s a narrative as previous as time (perhaps a bit of bit older even), common amongst artists however under no circumstances restricted to them. However few individuals, artists or in any other case, have fairly the power for self-reflection as Invoice Callahan. The Austin singer-songwriter has steadily advanced his sound from the early lo-fi days underneath his “Smog” moniker to the pastoral readability of data like Generally I Want We Have been an Eagle and Dream River. Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest is Callahan’s first album of completely new materials in roughly six years, and it’s as private of a document as we’ve ever gotten from him.
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The Good: For practically 30 years, Callahan has been one of many indie world’s biggest voices, lyrically and vocally. His baritone could seem steely, however there’s vulnerability beneath, like when his voice breaks to point out that he’s human in any case. Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest is worried with settling down, however not settling for much less. Callahan’s vocals are relaxed, like he’s singing reflections to himself as he drifts to sleep, hoping to recollect them within the morning. However they aren’t a glorified audiobook, like current Solar Kil Moon albums.
Generally, there’s a sudden shift in his supply. “Properly, I’ve been lookin’ again on the previous methods/ Over my shoulder like salt or sugar,” he sings on “The Ballad of the Hulk”, turning right into a mushy croon when sugar is talked about. On ode to domesticity “Son of the Sea”, he calmly states, “I bought married to my spouse/ She’s beautiful,” earlier than proclaiming, “AND I HAVE A SON.” For anybody who’s adopted Callahan by the darkness of data like The Physician Got here at Daybreak and Pink Apple Falls, realizing that he’s discovered stability and luxury is great, and that he’s capable of hold making compelling music is even higher.
The Unhealthy: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest is an easygoing album, principally that includes Callahan casually singing and strumming his acoustic guitar, with some overdubbing. It’s additionally over an hour lengthy and has 20 songs. If you happen to’re not into the primary track, you’re not going to be into the second, third, or twentieth ones. However even should you’re engrossed at first, you would possibly discover your thoughts wandering a bit across the midway level, given how sonically related the songs are. Though it wears its aesthetic very nicely, there’s often the need for the urgency of tracks like “Bloodflow” and “Drover”. If that appears like we’re critiquing Callahan for being glad and making music that displays that mindset, hey, we have now to nitpick in some way.
The Verdict: This isn’t an album for simply throwing on within the background whereas browsing social media (and even studying this evaluation). Earlier than placing it on, be sure to have an hour to your self to simply let it wash over you. Callahan’s ambition and essence haven’t been diminished by him being in an excellent headspace. He’s a person born to inform tales, and he’s no much less of a storyteller than he was in his early 30s.
Important Tracks: “The Ballad of the Hulk”, “Son of the Sea”, and “Tugboats and Tumbleweeds”