AOTY 2021
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Record Collector

While the album is intended as 10 individual slices of life, collective themes quickly emerge and turn it into more than the sum of its parts.

The Observer

Continuing one of music’s great about-turns, the undersung one-time misanthrope releases an album abundant in warmth and empathy.

The Independent

For the most part Gold Record is a deftly woven and cosily feathered little nest of songs.


As a writer of quasi-autobiographical songs that offer uniquely considered observations on human relationships and general life detail, Gold Record proves he’s moving into a realm of his own.

The Line of Best Fit

Familial contentment is the order of the day here too: like ambient music, Callahan drags the listener into his own tempo. His songs are often deeply relaxing, and even the most consequential moment is painted as quaint and small-scale.


For his eighteenth studio album, the masterful singer-songwriter revisits ideas - unreleased, or classics - in an attempt to make sense of who he is now.


Gold Record is very assured, marking a refinement of the Callahan sound.


Where once he seemed to articulate sociopathy, perhaps even misanthropy, Callahan's cast on Gold Record are notable for their kindness, and for the dignity of their discretion.


He steps into the scuffed boots of his doppelgängers for a series of stripped-down narratives that find him wringing universal truths from increasingly specific reference points.


More a scrapbook of sounds than a cohesive collection, the singer-songwriter's new album nonetheless sees him reach higher astral spheres than before.


On his latest solo record, the singer-songwriter continues his quiet excavation of self and the tumultuous world around him, exploring how a supposedly ordinary life is often anything but.


Equally rich and effortless, Gold Record is especially satisfying for longtime fans as part of a bounty of great work from Callahan since his return, but there's plenty here to delight anyone who loves brilliant songwriting and down-to-earth performances.

Beats Per Minute

It may not stand at the forefront of its creator’s dauntingly strong body of work, but Gold Record more than earns its place among his never-ending soul searching.

Spectrum Culture

Callahan provides 10 narrations here that mostly look at other people, but they should help both him and us look inward, too.

Northern Transmissions

The album does have a lackadaisical approach which will definitely not be for everyone but it does contain a multitude of moments that, if you exercise the same amount of patience Callahan does here, you will find much to enjoy.

Loud and Quiet

Gold Record is a group of ten fairly memorable tunes that showcase the ex-Smog songsmith at his best – pastoral, personal and patient.


The new record is pretty sparse in terms of its recording tones, very dry, and, in that respect, it owes a lot to skeleton-sparse Smog records like Kicking a Couple Around.

You mean to tell me that he had already released nine out of the ten singles already, and I had no idea this entire time apart from the first one? Fool me once, shame on... me?

It's no question that Bill Callahan is one of the most elusive yet celebrated americana artists in the modern age. Starting out with a wider-instrumental pallete transcending that of folk rock, the lonesome cowboy gradually subtracted instruments from the mix until his 2013 record "Dream River", a lonesome ... read more
Bill Callahan has kept himself pretty busy over the last three decades of his career. He took six years off between Dream River and his exceptional Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, which was my first introduction to the artist, but otherwise has consistently been releasing music since the beginning of his Smog days. An astounding songwriter and a warm voice, Callahan has never reached a larger audience through his work but maintains a strong, if not small, following.

Gold Record, released only a ... read more
A follow up release arriving so soon after the surprise double album ‘Shepherd...’ was always going to struggle - not only was there the novelty factor of hearing Callahan’s tweaked song writing approach after so long, there was also just such a wealth of new songs. It was an almighty splooge that had been building up who knows how long.

So as a direct comparison, yes this is a disappointment. ‘Shepherd’ was the epitome of ‘the whole adds up to way more than ... read more
Bill Callahan's 18th studio album, his Gold Record, is an equally reflective and sharp collection of short stories that juxtapose the simple desires of domestic life—the pleasure of eating breakfast, sleeping in, finally meeting those neighbors you've been avoiding, "living like a cowboy"—with the anything-but-simple realities that often belie and contextualize those pleasures: and so even as Bill pursues the romantic for its own sake, its realm of possibility is forced or ... read more
Hello, I'm Robert Christgau

Bill Callahan's career as a songwriter is entering its fourth decade, having released his debut Sewn to the Sky in 1990 under the moniker Smog. Initially experimental and Lo-Fi in nature Smog would slowly take on more Singer-Songwriter as well as Folk and Country aesthetics through the 90's until he fit perfectly within the emerging Alt-Country scene. A scene that had been growing since the early 90's, but didn't see success until the late 90's/early 00's. It was ... read more
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Track List

  1. Pigeons
  2. Another Song
  3. 35
  4. Protest Song
  5. The Mackenzies
  6. Let's Move to the Country
  7. Breakfast
  8. Cowboy
  9. Ry Cooder
  10. As I Wander
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Added on: June 25, 2020