Dream River

Twenty years in and the singer formerly known as Smog is making the best records of his career. His music is loose and rustic, his writing skirts the heart of the matter instead of bulldozing into it, and his careful deadpan imbues everyday statements with almost mystical resonance. See "The Sing," where he confesses, "The only words I've said today are 'beer' and 'thank you,'" then repeats them like a mantra; or "Small Plane," where the admission "I really am a lucky man" is delivered with just enough hesitation to hint that the truth is more complicated, but not as compelling, as the lie.

From The Archives Issue 1191: September 12, 2013