Apocalypse is a song cycle that places the usually extremely inward-looking Callahan in the unlikely role of observer and interpreter of various American myths; myths both externally held and culturally self-referential, that inform the interior world of the protagonist. Recorded and mixed in Texas and adorned by Paul Ryan's iconic painting Apocalypse at Mule Ears Peak, Big Bend National Park in West Texas, the album portrays America in all its complexity from the vantage point of an empathic yet wryly humorous narrator. Callahan name checks songwriting heroes -- Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, George Jones, and Johnny Cash -- by their actual ranks and branches in the armed forces while admitting he's never served, as if that might be the problem; then amid the din to make things more complex, he names our greatest national failures and dirty conquests. The album's most melodic and utterly beautiful song is the confessional waltz "Riding for the Feeling," with glistening electric piano and Wurlitzer played by Jonathan Meiburg. Apocalypse is a deceptively complex gem.
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