Release Date: May 31, 2005
Record label: Drag City / Domino
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Regular Smog-watchers will have become accustomed to a degree of bleakness and black humour, but this time Bill Callahan (for Smog, to all intents and purposes, is he) taps into a compelling vein of folk history and rural solitude. Callahan's richly textured voice takes centre stage as it unfolds weird parables, and ponders faith and family and travels back in time, often accompanied by little more than sparse acoustic guitar and Jim White's drumming. As early as the second track, Say Valley Maker, he is contemplating death and rebirth, while Rock Bottom Riser sounds as though he might have borrowed the plot from Wagner's Ring cycle.
Smog's Bill Callahan goes back to the root on A River Ain't Too Much to Love, his first full-length offering in two years. While it's true that his name is nearly synonymous with lo-fi, in recent years Callahan has experimented with different -- albeit simple -- production techniques such as on Dongs of Sevotion and Rain on Lens. Supper, issued in 2003, was more direct, both sonically and personally, and that tack is followed here, though the framework is even sparser.
Bill Callahan’s 12th record comes stamped with a title that’s flippantly profound and profoundly flippant – twin hallmarks of an eccentric and remarkably durable career. The singer has emerged from behind his parenthesis, and while he wouldn’t be Smog if he didn’t keep his distance, there’s a weary forthrightness to these new songs – a sense of refined purpose that’s wonderfully on the level. A River Ain’t Too Much to Love was recorded at Willie Nelson’s studio in Spicewood, Texas.