Album of the Week: Bill Callahan, Gold Record

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” so begins Bill Callahan’s Gold Record.

Bill Callahan and his acoustic guitar are on a roll. Last year’s Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest is equally quiet and quirky and wonderful which makes sense because Gold Record picks up where Shepherd left off, albeit with a focus that’s years and miles down the road. Callahan is a wise-cracking storyteller of the minute who’s never in a hurry as it takes time to dig into people’s lives the way he does on Gold Record, which was released on Drag City as a series of singles over 10 Mondays.

From opener “Pigeon”:

Well, I thought for a mile as I drove with a smile
And I said, “When you are dating you only see each other
And the rest of us can go to hell
But when you are married, you are married to the whole wide world
The rich, the poor
The sick and the well
The straights and gays
And the people that say ‘We don’t use those terms these days’
The salt and the soil”

Callahan closes the song with, Sincerely, L. Cohen. Wise guy.

Callahan’s baritone is easy going and relaxed, world-worn but not world-weary, as it tells these tales accompanied by his acoustic guitar and backing band who remain in the background. Gold Record is folk music about common folk for folks who delight in how the ordinary is anything but.