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Bill Callahan packed a lot of living into the years between Dream River and Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest: He married in 2014, welcomed a son in 2015, and lost his mother in 2018. These experiences couldn't help but inform his music, and on his fifth solo album, he sounds like he's rediscovered the wonders of life (and death) and is primed to share them in a way that feels new to his lengthy career. Though Shepherd is over an hour long, its songs are on a smaller, and more personal, scale than any of Callahan's previous work -- instead of panoramas, they're family snapshots. These shorter tracks may or may not reflect how he balances being a husband, father, and artist (though "Writing" and "Morning Is My Godmother" sing the praises of sacred creative times), but they bring a riveting directness to his music.
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