Dream River

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Dream River
Studio album by Bill Callahan
Released September 17, 2013
Recorded January 2013 at Cacophony, Texas
Genre Indie folk
Length 40:09
Label Drag City
Producer Erik Wofford
Bill Callahan chronology
Dream River
Have Fun with God
(2014)Have Fun with God2014

Dream River is the fifteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bill Callahan, released on September 17, 2013 on Drag City. Recorded by Erik Wofford, the album is Callahan's fourth to be released under his own name.

Released to critical acclaim, the album reached number forty-four on the UK Albums Chart.

Background and recording[edit]

Bill Callahan began writing songs for Dream River in August 2012, with the idea of it becoming an album to listen to late at night. Callhan noted, "[Dream River is] the last record you could listen to at the end of the day, before you go to bed, around midnight. [I wanted it to be] smooth and relaxing, the perfect end to a person's day."[1]

Describing his usual recording method as an all-encompassing experience, Callahan notes that the process differed for Dream River: "You sort of dread [recording an album], knowing you have to go into the abyss, because it gets more and more intense, and as the boulder gets bigger and bigger and heavier and heavier, the harder it is to let go. I wanted to see if I could have more of a life, to do other things while I'm making a record. I pretty much did."[1]

Writing and composition[edit]

Regarding the album's lyrical content, and the personal nature of Dream River's songs, Callahan noted, "I feel like there's already a written narrative going on everywhere. All the different situations and realities you're in, like words floating by. It's something that I didn't start thinking about until recently, but you can hitch that ride, that narrative that's already been created. You just have to read it and write it down."[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 84/100[2]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[3]
The A.V. Club A−[4]
The Independent 4/5 stars[5]
Mojo 5/5 stars[6]
NME 8/10[7]
The Observer 4/5 stars[8]
Pitchfork Media 8.5/10[9]
Q 4/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[11]
Spin 8/10[12]

Dream River received widespread critical acclaim upon its release. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 84, based on 33 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[2] Pitchfork Media's Lindsay Zoladz gave the album a Best New Music designation, writing: "At its core, this is a record about accepting and even embracing the smallness of human life, and how difficult that can be, given our damnably innate sense of adventure, ambition, and restlessness. [...] For once he’s not wishing he were an eagle or a tempest or a sunset. He is just Bill Callahan, flying his small plane with a co-pilot by his side, and for the moment at least, that is enough."[9] In a mostly positive review, AllMusic's Thom Jurek wrote: "With Dream River, fans already know what to expect from the man lyrically, and it can't be argued with qualitatively. When you place those lyrics in the context of something so subtly adventurous musically, the result is both engaging and seductive."[3] In another positive review, The A.V. Club's Jason Heller wrote: "As a portrayal of Bill Callahan by Bill Callahan, Dream River doesn't chew an inch of scenery; instead it dwells in knowing glances and haunted whispers."[4] Mojo magazine called Dream River Callahan's "most beguiling album yet" in a five-star review and later rated it the best album of the year for 2013.[2]


Publication Accolade Year Rank
Mojo MOJO's Top 50 Albums of 2013 2013
NME NME'S Albums of the Year 2013 2013
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2013 2013
Uncut The 80 Best Albums of 2013 2013

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Bill Callahan.

No. Title Length
1. "The Sing" 4:32
2. "Javelin Unlanding" 3:48
3. "Small Plane" 3:57
4. "Spring" 5:10
5. "Ride My Arrow" 5:03
6. "Summer Painter" 6:30
7. "Seagull" 5:39
8. "Winter Road" 5:30
Total length: 40:09



  • Bill Callahan - vocals, guitar
  • Matt Kinsey - guitar
  • Jamie Zuverza - bass, wurlitzer, organ
  • Thor Harris - congas, clave, drum kit

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Brian Beattie - percussion, upright piano
  • Chojo Jacques - fiddle
  • Beth Galiger - flute

Recording personnel[edit]

  • Erik Wofford - recording
  • Brian Beattie - mixing
  • Brad Bell - mixing assistant
  • Roger Siebel - mastering



Chart (2013) Peak
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[17] 38


  1. ^ a b c "Bill Callahan Rolls on Like a River". spin.com. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Reviews for Dream River by Bill Callahan". Metacritic. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Jurek, Thom. "Dream River – Bill Calahan". AllMusic. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Heller, Jason (September 17, 2013). "Bill Callahan: Dream River". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  5. ^ Richman, Simmy (September 15, 2013). "Album review: Bill Callahan, Dream River (Drag City)". The Independent. Archived from the original on August 28, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Bill Callahan: Dream River". Mojo (239): 89. October 2013. 
  7. ^ Pattison, Louis (September 12, 2013). "Bill Callahan – 'Dream River'". NME. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  8. ^ Empire, Kitty (September 15, 2013). "Bill Callahan: Dream River – review". The Guardian. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Zoladz, Lindsay (September 17, 2013). "Bill Callahan: Dream River". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Bill Callahan: Dream River". Q (328): 102. November 2013. 
  11. ^ Powell, Mike (September 17, 2013). "Dream River". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  12. ^ Menconi, David (September 18, 2013). "Bill Callahan Is a Fount of Gorgeously Economical Gravitas on ‘Dream River’". Spin. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  13. ^ Staff, Mojo. "MOJO's Top 50 Albums Of 2013". Mojo. Bauer. Retrieved 18 December 2015. 
  14. ^ "NME'S Albums of the Year 2013". nme.com. Retrieved 2015-12-10. 
  15. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2013". Pitchfork. December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  16. ^ "The Uncut Top 80 Albums of 2013". Uncut. Time Inc. UK. Retrieved 18 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Bill Callahan – dream River". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 September 2013.