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A River Ain't Too Much to Love by Smog

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Reviewed on 1st June 2005.


A River Ain't Too Much to Love

By Smog

Minus his infamous brackets, Bill Callahan comes strolling back into town, with his only weapon an acoustic guitar. If you know Smog, then there's little you need to know about this album, if you're new to him, then let me tell you...

Opening track 'Palimpsest's sparse, languid tones drift on a sea of Callahan's dulcet tones and drowsy acoustic picking. It's beautiful, and things pretty much carry on in the same vein for the duration of the record.

'The Well' is another highlight of the album, with its bluesy finger picking, and it's flickering drum beat. It also features a brilliant little refrain of "fuck all y'all", which is a nice little change from his hazy, rose tinted story telling as evidenced on the rest of the album.

There's a haunting, ghost like vocal draped over 'Drinking At The Dam', which sounds like a siren howling in the night, aided by the folky instrumentation and the beautiful vocal harmonies, just swaying softly in the background. It's my personal favourite, just for that eerie vocal, just swelling up and down in the back of the mix - it's gorgeous stuff.

It wouldn't be far off to say that this album is pretty samey and one dimensional, but, and here's the catch, if your songs sound as soulful and as beautifully downbeat as Smog's do, then there's no problems in sounding the same. Most bands or singer-songwriters would kill to sound like just one of his songs, and here Smog runs through ten of them.

He's playing at the Faversham soon, so I suggest you take a walk on down there and relax to one of the world's last great songwriters.



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