|Smog — Supper|
Smog — Supper (March 18, 2003)★Ξ★ Album vzniklo uprostřed nové epochy Smogu. With their sparse instrumentation and revealing lyrics, Bill Callahan and co. were pioneers for both lo–fi acts and indie singer/songwriters.
★Ξ★ Slipping and gliding, your hero has returned. (SMOG) is back in the building. With him is his newest record. But he's not going to sing it for you, no. Instead, he's going to play it for you. And so, with a press of a button–the new (SMOG) album, Supper. © Author Innis McAllister / Bill Callahan (formerly known as Smog) plays St Georges Church in Brighton on August 18 2009.
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
Album release: March 18, 2003
Recorded: August–September 2002
Mastered at Abbey Road.
• All songs written by Bill Callahan.
1. "Feather by Feather" 5:36
2. "Butterflies Drowned in Wine" 4:37
3. "Morality" 2:46
4. "Ambition" 4:27
5. "Vessel in Vain" 4:19
6. "Truth Serum" 7:28
7. "Our Anniversary" 6:17
8. "Driving" 4:09
9. "A Guiding Light" 3:49
★Ξ★ Bill Callahan — vocals, guitar, hammond, piano
★Ξ★ Ken Champion — pedal steel, piano
★Ξ★ Ryan Hembrey — bass, cello
★Ξ★ Andy Hopkins — guitar
★Ξ★ Sarabeth Tucek — vocals
★Ξ★ Jim White — drums
★Ξ★ Nate Lepine — wind controller
★Ξ★ Bill Lowman — guitar, banjo (track 8)
★Ξ★ Rian Murphy — drums (track 3)
★Ξ★ Bill Callahan Composer, Guitar, Organ (Hammond), Piano, Vocals
★Ξ★ Ken Champion Pedal Steel, Piano
★Ξ★ Michael Colligan Visual Effects Designer
★Ξ★ Ryan Hembrey Bass, Cello
★Ξ★ Andy Hopkins Guitar
★Ξ★ Jeremy Lemos Engineer
★Ξ★ Nate Lepine Wind Controller
★Ξ★ Rian Murphy Drums
★Ξ★ Smog Producer
★Ξ★ Sarabeth Tucek Vocals
★Ξ★ Nick Webb Mastering
★Ξ★ Jim White Drums
ΞΞ Supper is Bill Callahan's tenth album, released in March 2003 on Domino Records in Europe and on Drag City in North America under his then–alias (Smog). It was recorded by Jeremy Lemos from August to September 2002 and mastered by Nick Webb at Abbey Road Studios.
ΞΞ In 2004, the track "Vessel in Vain" appeared on the soundtrack of Shane Meadows' acclaimed British thriller Dead Man's Shoes. Also, in 2005, the track "A Guiding Light" appeared on the soundtrack of "Winter Passing". In 2012, the track "Our Anniversary" appeared on the soundtrack of Smashed and is played over the film's closing credits.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares; Score: ***½
ΞΞ At this point, it might be all too predictable to say that Bill Callahan sounds more natural and at ease with each (Smog) album he releases, but it nevertheless holds true for Supper, his 11th full–length (and his second with the Smog name protected by parentheses). Where Dongs of Sevotion and Rain on Lens switched between intimacy and distance like a game of cat–and–mouse, on this album Callahan is strikingly direct from the beginning, generating an emotional and musical heat that hasn't been heard in his music since Knock Knock. Supper begins with "Feather by Feather," which recounts a tale of moving on from a wild past with typically clever lyrics ("When they make the movie of your life/They're going to have to ask you to do your own stunts") and a gorgeous arrangement featuring steel guitars and Sarabeth Tucek's honeyed backing vocals. The song reflects the unabashedly pretty, vulnerable tone that marks most of the album's best moments, such as the philosophical, countrified "Vessel in Vain," on which Callahan notes, "my ideals have got me on the run"; "Truth Serum," a wryly romantic duet with Tucek; and the outstanding "Our Anniversary," which celebrates staying close to someone instead of running away from them. Supper also has its fair share of tough, strutting rockers, both for better (the witty, sexy "Morality") and for worse (the dour "Ambition"). While Callahan's glimpses into the darker side of human nature have traditionally been among his finer moments, on this album they sound tired, even if they serve as a counterpoint to the rest of Supper's gentle, easy grace. But even within the album's warm, natural feel, Callahan offers a few unique twists and turns, such as the impressionistic "Driving," which with its hushed vocals, syncopated drums and banjos, and fireworks(!), conjures the feeling of sitting in a car during a rainstorm. Musically speaking, Supper's most exciting track is "Butterflies Drowned in Wine," which moves from a menacing, bluesy opening to Velvets–inspired rock to a bittersweet, pedal steel–driven chorus. It teeters on the edge of chaos, but that just infuses the song with more drama and proves that Callahan still has the ability to surprise. His last two albums also reflected his ongoing growth as an artist, but Supper's settled but intriguing warmth is an even bigger step forward. ΞΞ http://www.allmusic.com/
Ed Howard, Score: B+
ΞΞ Bill Callahan sure is one miserable bastard. Like his similarly minded labelmate Will Oldham, he’s made a career out of despair, heartache, and emotional breakdown, with hardly a bright spot in sight in his entire catalogue. Wherever it is that he lives, there are no sunny days, and nothing to ever get very excited about. His last album was called Rain on Lens, and the most upbeat song on his masterpiece Dongs of Sevotion was called “Dress Sexy at My Funeral.” You’ll never catch him stepping out of this down–and–out persona — his deadpan, sad–sack baritone will probably keep intoning these same sad hymns of death and lost romance until the end of time.
ΞΞ As such, evaluating a new (Smog) album is a tricky proposition. The recent addition of parentheses aside, not much has changed in Callahan’s insular little world since he first started churning out homemade demo tapes back in 1988. Dongs of Sevotion, from 2000, was a slight departure in that it replaced Callahan’s typical no–fi folk with more fleshed–out arrangements and real studio production. But despite the presence of Tortoise’s John McEntire and some genuine electrified rock songs, even that album didn’t sound essentially much different from Callahan’s previous work.
ΞΞ After the stark, focused melodrama of the follow–up Rain on Lens, Supper marks a return to the comparatively more eclectic direction of Dongs, this time with a nearly full commitment to rocking out. It’s a welcome change, too; this is the closest Callahan has ever come to releasing a full “rock” album, and the varied instrumentation makes up for the lack of variation in mood.
ΞΞ The album is top–loaded with its most rocking songs, kicking off on a downright enthusiastic note before slowly shifting down into the lower gears. The album opener “Feather By Feather” is a nuanced alt–country number, with twangy electric guitars and female background harmonies behind Callahan’s distinctive tuneless moaning. “Butterflies Drowned in Wine” and “Morality” are both bluesy stompers driven along by stuttering guitars and a steady cruisin’ beat. Even the more restrained songs on the album, like the repetitive, droning “Ambition” and the Neil Young–ish guitar opus “Truth Serum,” are bolstered by fiery accents and a sturdy rhythmic base.
ΞΞ As welcome as Callahan’s newfound musical catholicity is, it would mean nothing if his songs weren’t still strong. Thankfully, they are. There’s nothing as willfully quirky or funny as the better moments on Dongs, but Callahan’s lyrics can still bite hard, as well as painting emotionally rich portraits with just a few words. On the stark “Our Anniversary,” which is musically most reminiscent of pre–Dongs Smog, Callahan creates a tapestry of poignant images and scenes from his economical, literate lyrics.
ΞΞ The album’s gradual descent into lament on its second half reaches a pinnacle with the sublime “Driving.” One of the best moments in the entire (Smog) discography, the song consists entirely of Callahan repeating, “and the rain washes the price off of our windshield” over a loose, formless backing of rumbling percussion, plucked guitars, and ghostly female backing vocals. As the repetition of the vocals becomes a mantra, the chant of a sad man seeking salvation, the song reaches for (and achieves) transcendence, which is beautifully mirrored by the explosions of fireworks in the background.
ΞΞ After this, the album closes with the unassuming spiritual plea of “A Guiding Light,” thus receding on a note of redemptive hope virtually unparalleled by Callahan’s past albums. So perhaps things aren’t so bad in the world of (Smog) after all. Certainly, with an album this impressive under his belt, Callahan should be encouraged to reach out even further on future works. Supper is a fine accomplishment, a record of sad grace and folky simplicity that outdoes its predecessors and hints at a very worthwhile future. ΞΞ http://www.stylusmagazine.com/
By Nathan Hogan, Apr. 7, 2003
|Smog — Supper|