Bill Callahan, Hidden Ritual | Lincoln Hall | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Bill Callahan, Hidden Ritual Member Picks Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Sun., July 3, 8 p.m. 2011

Bill Callahan has had a wicked sense of humor, but where the jokes in his music used to seem like a shield, now they're the cracks in the armor where his humanity shows through. His new Apocalypse (Drag City) opens with "Drover," a stunning tune about a cattle driver, where Callahan both embraces and tweaks the hard-bitten solitude of his character, snapping, "I set my watch against the city clock / And it was way off!" The tune "America!" is a conflicted indictment of our country, mixing the cynicism of Randy Newman with heartfelt admiration: "Afghanistan! / Vietnam! / Iran!" he belts out, as if they were players on a team, and then sings, "Everyone's allowed a past they don't care to mention." It's so spot-on it almost hurts to hear. Callahan's music gets stronger with every new record, as does his singing; his timing on Apocalypse is remarkable, and he guides listeners through the unfolding of his lyrics by giving some lines clipped readings followed by pregnant pauses while stretching out and repeating others. Though it's clear that Callahan's band didn't get a lot of time to rehearse, the players are agile enough to make the tunes work, delivering an accompaniment that's sometimes as elastic as his phrasing; on "Baby's Breath" they accelerate and decelerate like a racing heartbeat. —Peter Margasak

Price: $20

Add a review


Select a star to rate.