Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle

Bill Callahan
Drag City

Smog mastermind Bill Callahan traffics in the same casual baritone speak-singing of latter-day Lou Reed, but adds just enough of Lyle Lovett’s amiable wryness to keep the delivery light on its feet. This makes Eagle lyrical and often very pretty, but light on melody. Ironically, Eagle’s most winning songs are typically its most melodic (“The Wind and the Dove,” “Rococo Zephyr”). Further underscoring this trend is “All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast,” which, with its dramatic strings and ominously insistent percussion, is arguably the album’s high point. Callahan’s low-key delivery and the near-total lack of hooks keep the audience at a considerable distance throughout Eagle, which means that the record ultimately lives and dies by the listener’s taste for Callahan’s idiosyncrasies. It’s to his credit that he manages to make these quirks so likable more often than not.