posted May 23rd, 2019

Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest was announced earlier this month, a welcome revelation: the first release from well-seasoned journeyman songster Bill Callahan since 2013's Dream River. Today, via the DSP of your choice, side 1 of Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest is available to stream and co-mingle with the other tributaries coursing through your existence. Because today is just one day in the life - but after six years of silence, the four sides of Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest are bound to reflect upon many days of past, present and future. So why not take it in one side at a time?

The sense of a life thunderstruck by change infuses Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest - but the album opens in the becalmed stasis of daybreak, moving abstractly through places of memory and dreams in "Shepherd's Welcome." Steel and harmonica come and go, twinkling around the corners of "Black Dog On the Beach" with inutterable delicacy. "Angela" is one of the purest ballads Bill's ever written, like a ballad from The Genius Sings the Blues. - worldly, debauched even, but projected with a potently soulful feeling. The old days are on the mind for "The Ballad of The Hulk" - not the cold-blooded old days, but ones of inadequate response nonetheless, viewed compassionately and with gentle comedy though a glass half-full, even while the path of conflict stretches onward. The suggestion of rebirth bobs below the surface through all of this, and the songs flow almost as one, emerging into "Writing," with joyful immediacy, like an underground stream into the daylight, as Bill muses upon the muse, and we too feel the delight that anyone who's ever been blocked knows when they are unblocked again. This effervescence dissolves with chiming bells into "Morning Is My Godmother," in which images of family and new dawn set us down prayerfully at the end of the side - and only really still at the beginning of something, something we call Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest.   

Throughout the side and the rest of the album (SPOILER ALERT!), Bill's expressions are wedded translucently to the music, with both he and engineer Brian Beattie playing many parts, and Matt Kinsey's guitar partnership providing telepathic partnership, allowing all of the music the opportunity to drift like actual time, even as it coalesces into solid chunks of song. See you with with side 2 next week!



6/13/19 Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace,  Pioneertown CA
6/14/19 The Lodge Room,  Los Angeles CA
6/15/19 The Lodge Room,  Los Angeles CA
6/17/19 Henry Miller Library,  Big Sur CA
6/18/19 The Castro Theeatre,  San Francisco CA
6/19/19 Gundlach-Bundschu Winery,  Sonoma CA
6/21/19 Wonder Ballroom,  Portland OR (Early Show)
6/21/19 Wonder Ballroom,  Portland OR
6/22/19 Neptune Theatre,  Seattle WA
7/5/19 Lawrence Public Library,  Lawrence KS
7/6/19 Cedar Cultural Center,  Minneapolis MN
7/7/19 Thalia Hall,  Chicago IL
7/8/19 Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit,  Detroit MI
7/10/19 The Sinclair,  Cambridge MA
7/11/19 Murmrr Theatre,  Brooklyn NY
7/12/19 White Eagle Hall,  Jersey City NJ
7/13/19 World Cafe Live,  Philadelphia PA
7/14/19 Miracle Theatre,  Washington DC
7/15/19 Miracle Theatre,  Washington DC
7/16/19 Cat's Cradle,  Carrboro NC
7/17/19 Terminal West,  Atlanta GA
7/18/19 Proud Larry's,  Oxford MS

9/29/19 Vicar Street, Dublin IE
10/1/19 Usher Hall, Edinburgh UK
10/2/19 Albert Hall, Manchester UK
10/3/19 Eventim Apollo, London UK
10/5/19 La Cigale, Paris FR
10/6/19 Ancienne Belgique, Brussels BE
10/7/19 TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht NL
10/8/19 Admiralspalast, Berlin DE
10/10/19 Store Vega, Copenhagen DK
10/11/19 Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo NO
10/12/19 Göta Lejon, Stockholm SE
10/13/19 Pustervik, Gothenburg SE

Artists in this story: Bill Callahan