Smog : ‘Neath The Puke Tree

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Quixotic man of letters, bon viveur, rakish dandy about town Bill Callahan gives every impression of being none of these things...

Quixotic man of letters, bon viveur, rakish dandy about town Bill Callahan gives every impression of being none of these things. As lugubrious documenter of what we’ll charitably call ‘troubled’ relationships, however, he has few equals. The five songs on ”Neath The Puke Tree’, two old and

re-recorded, three new, find him in customarily unpleasant form, suggesting once more that it’s only awe-inspiring snideness that keeps him alive. ‘I Was A Stranger’ starts the party swinging, country music for cowboys who’ve just shot their horses for lack of something to be miserable about. Then it’s dirge, dirge, dirge all the way, enlivened as ever by Callahan’s toxic come-hithering: “Twiddly-biddly-boo”, begins ‘Your Sweet Entrance’, before making the concept of sex about as appealing as slow, crude animal torture. I’m not selling this one very well, am I?

John Mulvey