ROOTS

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music - Tom Jel­lett

THE artist for­merly known as Smog, or lat­terly ( smog), has al­ways sounded as if he has suf­fered for his mu­sic, but on Woke on a Whale­heart , the first album un­der his own name and since his move to Austin, Texas, Cal­la­han sounds as if he has left the angst at home in a bucket and is start­ing to en­joy him­self. Whereas ear­lier al­bums had the oc­ca­sional and un­com­fort­able whiff of teenage po­etry, this is a much hap­pier and mu­si­cally up­beat album, but that shouldn’t put off Cal­la­han fans. Look­ing past the back­ing vo­cal­ists and string ar­range­ments, Cal­la­han’s trade­mark wit and mea­sure are still present. The char­ac­ter­is­tic and sonorous bari­tone is also in­tact, and this is his most ac­com­plished album as a vo­cal­ist. He ex­cels on the near straight- out coun­try and west­ern num­bers, The Wheel and A Man Needs a Wo­man or a Man To Be a Man. It is here and on the won­der­fully lush Sycamore that Cal­la­han starts to re­sem­ble Kurt Wag­ner from Lam­b­chop, not that there’s any­thing wrong with that. Woke on a Whale­heart Bill Cal­la­han Drag City/ In­er­tia

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