Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. The subtle backing musicians never overshadow Callahan’s reedy baritone and direct lyrics; they merely add subtle shading and light in the appropriate spots--a restraint reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s use of studio musicians on laid-back classics like John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline.
  2. An exquisite mix that conjures train tracks and piney woods. [3 Jun 2005, p.86]
  3. His 12th record holds no surprises for longtime fans, and yet here it is, his best, his greatest.
  4. Burrows deep into the collective unconscious of American song.
  5. A River Ain’t Too Much To Love has more in common with great books than it does with great rock albums; it’s intelligent, introspective, sensitive and best experienced in a very quiet place.
  6. An intelligent step forward from a unique and prolific troubadour.
  7. A honky tonk Leonard Cohen, the music of Smog sounds like it's spent all its life half cut in a saloon bar way out in the American mid-west thinking far too deeply about love and life for far too long.
  8. 80
    Callahan is back on track. [Jun 2005, p.104]
  9. 80
    The musical settings are crisp, spare, folksy, recalling '96's The Doctor Came At Dawn and allowing Callahan to play one of his best roles: a campfire-friendly Leonard Cohen. [Jun 2005, p.97]
  10. A River Ain't Too Much to Love is a subdued, plaintive collection of songs that accompany silence; they encourage reflection without guile and unveil themselves without a hint of studied artifice.
  11. He's reached another career peak to match that of 1999's 'Knock Knock'.
  12. Regular Smog-watchers will have become accustomed to a degree of bleakness and black humour, but this time Bill Callahan... taps into a compelling vein of folk history and rural solitude.
  13. The minimalist arrangements are still here. The bored baritone voice hasn't changed any. The personal-yet-guarded lyrics can be found throughout.
  14. His sinister Americana is understatedly cruel and sublimely dolorous, with a kinder view of nature than humanity. [#16, p.135]
  15. You’re going to want to hear this one.
  16. As much as it hurts to admit it, not everybody will get so much out of Smog's latest understated masterpiece.
  17. Callahan is a true original. [#255, p.65]
  18. Although not as compelling as his more subversive material, this softening of his sound doesn't carry the negative connotation of an artist losing steam later in his career; Callahan's distinctive baritone and cutting inflection are unchanging and iconic, and show that this sensitive appearance is just one more spin of the kaleidoscope.
  19. The cryptic, empty songs of Rain on Lens and wandering, upbeat folk-tunes of Supper have been usurped by a renewed focus and direction.
  20. Typically minimal and monochrome but beyond the dirge-like pace of tracks like 'Say Valley Maker' lies an unlikely optimism. [28 May 2005, p.64]
  21. [It] doesn't offer many surprises, and as usual that's OK.
  22. 60
    This time, he's playing with a minimalist, barely electric trio that wouldn't dare overshadow his sleepy-voiced utterances, painstakingly plucking one note at a time, and writing songs mostly about horses or mortality or both. [Jun 2005, p.115]
  23. At times, Callahan's penchant for clever phrasings gets the better of him.
  24. [His] trademark unassuming melodic sparseness... only serves to amplify his grating, bone-decaying voice. [#10, p.114]
  25. Pointless drifting that fails to grip even on repeated listening. [Jun 2005, p.118]
  26. 40
    Too much of A River, though, doesn't give you enough music to love it. [#68, p.110]

There are no user reviews yet.