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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fly Bill Fly
I'm a LONG time fan of Bill Callahan and I await each release with great anticipation. Having been slightly underwhelmed by Woke on a Whaleheart I can say with great glee that this is a FANTASTIC record. Full of HOPE and great music (strings! horns! strings!), it might even be his best offering. Believe it, believers. 100% Bill Callahan.

If you want to...
Published on 17 April 2009 by DrG

versus
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit dull - he was better as Smog
I only wanted to listen to one track on this album a second time - the one about his dad - so wouldn't recommend it despite being a fan of Callahan's work as Smog. A lot of his early stuff is absolutely brilliant: the oddly named Dongs of Sevotion, Supper and dozens of wonderful tracks off all the other CDs...
Check them out.
Give this one a miss.
Published on 22 Dec 2009 by Luke Andreski


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fly Bill Fly, 17 April 2009
By 
DrG (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle (Audio CD)
I'm a LONG time fan of Bill Callahan and I await each release with great anticipation. Having been slightly underwhelmed by Woke on a Whaleheart I can say with great glee that this is a FANTASTIC record. Full of HOPE and great music (strings! horns! strings!), it might even be his best offering. Believe it, believers. 100% Bill Callahan.

If you want to experiment with Bill Callahan / smog / (smog), this is a good a place to start as any, and is certainly among his most accessible recordings. I would also recommend Knock Knock and A River Ain't Too Much to Love.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He used to be darker, then he got lighter, then he got dark again, 30 Mar 2009
By 
Don Panik (Cambridge UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle (Audio CD)
This is an excellent album - probably my favourite of 2009 so far. Bill Callahan has been around a long time under the Smog moniker and tends to produce low key albums that grow on you with more listens. This one struck me as more instantly impressive than his last outing, his rather dry delivery nicely contrasted by some excellent string arrangements. Well worth listening closely to the lyrics - some interesting and quirky takes on love and religion here. Intelligent indie music for discerning listeners I would say. If BC is new to you, reference points would be Lambchop meets Richard Hawley. If you are already a fan then this will exceed your expectations. And that's praise indeed!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I started out in search of ordinary things...then found one of the albums of 2009!, 25 July 2009
By 
Stagger Lee (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle (Audio CD)
I, like many of the woefully ignorant record buying public out there, had allowed Bill Callahan (aka Smog) to slip under my music radar over the last few years. This, despite a prodigious output and much critical acclaim. Perhaps it was his reputation for revelling in misery or maybe it was the generally lo-fi genre which he inhabited that put me off. Whatever. His second solo outing, bought on the basis of a glowing Word magazine review has led me to a wonderful place inhabited by Callahan and his bittersweet lyrics.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is in fact a majestic record, shimmering with understated beauty and heartfelt sincerity. If that seems overblown, listen to My Friend without thinking of someone you have lost. Listen to Eid Ma Clack Shaw without wistfully reminiscing about times gone by (or being jolted by recollections you'd rather not have!). Listen to Too Many Birds and I defy you not to be blown away by the sparse but powerful imagery.

Somehow, it doesn't feel right to label a record with so many superlatives. My indie scepticism, hardened by the incessant hype surrounding the music industry, usually won't allow this level of unfettered adulation. But he deserves it, he truly does.

A magnificent record by a true auteur.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Callahan - Sometimes I wish we could all write songs as good as this, 6 Jun 2009
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle (Audio CD)
I struggled with this album for a while and I am not certain why. Smog has passed me by and I hope to use "Sometimes I wish we were an eagle" as a door which will open to some very rich treasures. If Bill Callahan albums are anything as good as this a massive treat is in store.

He sings in what is low yet melodic baritone voice and its both gentle and atmospheric but with a deceptive hard edge. First song "Jim Cain" reminds me of Kurt Wagner from Lambchop and the superb "Saturday option" from "What a man spills". Its slow and incremental but once it get its hooks into you it stays with you. The lyrics are quite funny as Callahan admits that "I started out in search of ordinary things ... I started telling the story without knowing the end. I used to be darker, then I got lighter, then I got dark again."

"Wind and the Dove" has an eastern coda that runs through its introduction and then goes into a deep melody with Callahan spoken lyrics to a bitter but beautiful love lament. It is followed by equally strong songs including "Too Many Birds" and what passes for an upbeat song on this album "My Friend" underpinned by wonderful orchestration and beautiful deep cellos.

The albums masterpiece however is "All thoughts are prey to some beast". It charts a dark journey in consciousness and how his desires eventually return but not until a moment when he recognises

"Then something struck him, wings of bone
Sweet desires and soft thoughts were all gone
The eagle shrieked, "I'm alone"

"All thoughts" is followed by a rather weak instrumental but the album ends on a high with the long and gentle Faith/Void where Callahan walks away from religion announcing "its time to put God away". If you are religious you may not like the sentiment but it is a wonderful song about the end of faith.

So we did I struggle so much with this album? Perhaps because it is so good and requires you to LISTEN. Bill Callahan has created one of the most evocative albums you will hear this year. I thought when I heard it initially it owed a huge debt to Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen I was completely wrong it is utterly unique.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mellow, sometimes beautiful..., 12 Sep 2009
This review is from: Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle (Audio CD)
My first Bill Callahan/Smog album - mellow, sometimes beautiful, an album rooted in nature - I was thrilled to find it. My 5 and 8 year olds love it too and we're listening too it a little too much...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Smog CD since Knock Knock, 15 May 2009
By 
P. J. Sharp "Hill Top Man" (Marlow) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle (Audio CD)
I didn't know John Wayne was a singer - but if he sounds like this I'm off to buy his back catalogue now.

For those who know Callahan's music, this is an excellent addition to your collection, better formed than Whaleheart (and the Smog one before that which was 'OK') Faith/Void, Old Ma are both superb and really get into your spirit in terms of atmosphere. The cover art is beautiful and Callahan's voice hasn't sounded better.

This is much better than 'Beware' and Callahan seems to be focused on creating a CD that will be played for a long time from now, rather than genre jumping. Having said that, Bonnie P B was amazing live at the Festival hall last month, let's see how Callahan is in July in Islington.

Well worth your time to get to love this classic.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, spiritual and beautiful food for the soul, 16 Jun 2009
By 
J. M. Whittaker (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was driving down to Cardiff to see my children at 5am in the morning; the sky was beautiful and the dawn creeping in; I put this CD into the player for the first time and gasped! Each track is seminal; Bill muses on life, his past and the human condition, set to gorgeous string arrangements and delicate picked acoustic guitar; his voice is somewhere between speech and singing; almost recitative;it is a revelatory album; particulaly the third track; unpredictable modulations and melodic twists; I could wax lyrical on each song; I saw Bill at the Green Man Festival and he was very good; however he has now reached some kind of peak; alongside James Yorkston, Alisdair Roberts, Will Oldham and their ilk. Album of the year so far!!! Buy it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gem!, 21 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle (Audio CD)
A real beautiful album. There is hardly a weak moment, let alone song. The sparse arrangements compliment Callahan's Cohenesque vocal delivery perfectly. It's a much more immediate album than Apocalypse and after a year of listening I still have not tired of it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great album from Mr. Smog, 16 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle (Audio CD)
This is as god as it gets frem Mr. Smog, Bill Callahan. If you are interested in Smog and Bill Callahan, this is the perfect starter.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Possibly Bill Callahan's finest to date?, 24 April 2010
By 
This review is from: Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle (Audio CD)
Bill Callahan has abandoned the Smog moniker he used to release albums under. His second album under his own name, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle, is recognisably him, but the instrumentation is a lot more realised than the Smog albums I'm familiar with, and is really quite warm.

The opening track, Jim Cain, is like a perfect Sunday afternoon song. Dominated by Callahan's vocals (once described as being like tar!), it's an easy, relaxed song, with some great lyrics like "I used to be darker, then I got lighter, then I got dark again." The following track, Eid Ma Clack Shaw, is a little more uptempo, driven by a string section. It's essentially about his attempt to write a song mid-dream, but when he awoke all he was left with was the nonsensical phrase, Eid Ma Clack Shaw.

After such an upbeat beginning, the next track, The Wind and the Dove, is a little darker (sorry couldn't resist), but the playing on this, and all the other tracks is really superb. Rococo Zephyr is a kind of duet, and is a little bamboozling lyrically apart from a clever play on the 'I was blind, now I can see' lyrical cliché (much beloved of Primal Scream amongst others) by the simple use of the words 'sort of'. Too Many Birds again has a very relaxed feel.

My Friend contains an acoustic guitar figure driving the song along, with Callahan's dark as night delivery of the title. All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast reminds me musically of Arab Strap (a good thing) and the strings on this one render it compulsive listening. After the short interlude of Invocation of Ratiocination (?) the album comes full circle back to the feel of the opening track with the nine minute Faith/Void, which consists of beautiful music and little more than Callahan singing "It's time to put God away" over and over. It's almost like the sound of the eagle mentioned in the title, soaring and graceful.

All in all, a great album for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and one I fear is going to lead me back to all those Smog albums lurking in my collection...
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