Thinly-disguised Depression Blog that 6 Days From Tomorrow is, it’s probably of little surprise that most things to be found on here are of an emotional bent in one way or another, as emotion is something that is on occasion hard to come by to people such as myself, as well as being something strongly felt when it happens. I guess that sort of makes it a blessing, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Anyway, this is all just so much fluff and largely unimportant – it’s records such as this that make such highs and lows freely available to everyone, and not just the slightly and sometimes fortunately mad.
Much of the charm of Bill Callahan lies in the way that he has the ability to immediately disarm like nobody else I can think of. He does this of course with that honeyed, deep voice of his but it’s more the way that meanders around each of the subjects of Dream River, taking the listener and his music on a lazy journey around his speech patterns: speeding up, slowing down and pausing to capture an elusive thought or making room for a sentence while making it all sound as if it’s the easiest thing in the world to do.
Similar to the previous Apocalypse, Dream River has an undeniable outdoorsy feel, evoking wide-open spaces even when he’s singing about nocturnal hotel bars as he does in opener The Sing. Something like Spring (with its killer line “the true Spring is in you”) invites long walks with wide-open eyes, a heightened sense of surroundings and an ambivalent sense of direction (I know this to be true, as this is exactly what I did today with this playing). Even when the mood darkens slightly with Summer Painter, the strange guitar tones and ascendant flute playing still keeps the attention sharp and the heart beating that slight bit faster.
The peak in all of this comes as it should, right at the end of the last track Winter Road when you realise just what a hold on you Bill has gently kept for the preceding half hour or so, as the line “I have learned that when things are beautiful, to just keep on” comes with the realisation that he’s been holding your heart this whole time and with this soaring line, he’s letting it go again with an expression of awed joy and the sneaking feeling that he knew all along that he was going to do that, akin to a magician who never even let on that such a trick was ever even underway. It comes as the end of a long and captivating conversation with a stranger who finally lets on the secret of elation, and for a change the reveal doesn’t feel like a let-down in any sense.
There’s a magic moment when an album finishes for the first time, and there’s that awful silence and a faint ringing in the ears to indicate that something incredibly special is over. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, that feeling of nothingness rushing into where there was once beautiful sound will happen again with subsequent plays. That, my friends, acquaintances, interested strangers and assorted others, is the physical realisation of the arrival of sadness. Sadness that something brilliant is finished. Sadness as a positive result of it rushing into the void left after a euphoric moment. That sort of thing. Dream River provides all that, and has that rare distinction of being able to do this every time with every listen.