posted June 6th, 2019

"What Comes After Certainty" - that's what the whole Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest album is about. But what comes after "What Comes After Certainty"? On this album, that would be Side 3 - the traditional side in pop-rock lore in which an album may attempt to reach its farthest-out point,  a dizzying apex of music and meanings where the thinness of penultimate air produces a sense of abstraction in the ear of the traveler.  
That said, we know that Bill Callahan doesn't make 'em like everyone else does - but he's certainly inclined to doff a cap now and again. And so, from the top of "Confederate Jasmine," Side 3 blurs the index that the first two have laid semi-neatly upon the table. The baby's in the house now, and the playful and wayward affect of the storyteller has reentered our resurgent songwriter's eye. The domestic air, laced with "writer's cologne" on this night, is rich with contrarian imaginings, and in the dark, animalistic shadows are perceived- a wolf that won't leave, camels expiring in the heat - as the wraiths of family past dance with future kin, visiting Bill without disturbing his sanguine meditation. Capable of witnessing such scenes of brutality with an unblinking, gladiatorial disposition in "Camels," Bill's also inclined to claim "I never was the things I said I was," in "Call Me Anything," concluding the titular thought with the reassuring " long as I can sing." "Son of the Sea" shanties toward some understanding of the balance at play here, but the field of is wide - instrumental hues wafted upon the lattice of guitars and bass throughout this side include electric keys, synthetic drum, kalimba, harmonica, bowed psaltery, drums and percussion. 

As with Side 2, this third set ends with a moment of almost perfect silence, in song form - "Circles," his elegy for mom. Sketching the circumferences of life in their sparest lines, Bill captures the beauty of breath as it is expelled for the last time and escapes from the room with staid filigrees of guitar, keening notes of synth and his voice, raising to ask "I mean, who can stop the quest?" The chair creaks beneath him, and the guitars chime one last time. But it's only the end of the side - there's more life to come.


6/13/19 Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace Pioneertown CA
6/14/19- 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
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
8/31/19- 9/1/19 HOCO Fest Tucson AZ

9/29/19 Vicar Street Dublin Ireland
10/1/19 Usher Hall Edinburgh United Kingdom
10/2/19 Albert Hall Manchester United Kingdom
10/3/19 Eventim Apollo London United Kingdom
10/5/19 La Cigale Paris France
10/6/19 AB Ancienne Belgique Brussels Belgium
10/7/19 Tivoli Vredenburg Utrecht Netherlands
10/8/19 Admiralpalast Berlin Germany
10/10/19 Store Vega Copenhagen Denmark
10/11/19 Rockefeller Music Hall Oslo Norway
10/12/19 Gota Lejon Stockholm Sweden
10/13/19 Pustervik Gothenburg Sweden

*Early Show

Artists in this story: Bill Callahan