Bill Callahan, New Burns | Cat's Cradle | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week

Clubs & Concerts

Bill Callahan, New Burns

When: Sun., Sept. 29, 10 p.m. 2013

During the last 25 years, Bill Callahan has assumed three chief musical roles. He's been a playful but often poignant lo-fi miscreant, and he's served as a solemn songwriter delivering his blues in an old oak baritone. He's been a bandleader, too, capable of harnessing all manner of string sections and gospel choirs, darting flutes and intertwining drums within his elliptical and keen observations. His latest, Dream River, is a refined exercise in those last two modes. On "Summer Painter," for instance, Callahan speak-sings over a noise squall, a repetitive bass line and feedback thrusts echoing behind his words. Meanwhile, "Spring" finds him shuffling over flutes and half-Latin percussion, suave in his sound and confident in his power to land the line, "All I want to do is make love to you—in the fertile dirt."

But on "Small Plane," it's just Callahan and his electric guitar, supported gently by bass and a trickle of drums. The song is a confession of comfort so strong it even seems to surprise him—"Sometimes you sleep while I take us home/That's when I know we really have a home." It's an instant reminder that Callahan has developed from an acrid kid into one of indie rock's real songwriting statesmen, capable of turning 30 words scattered in verse into a perfect encapsulation of adulthood. —Grayson Currin

Price: $15-17

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