Smog came to face the truth by diving into the murk with the spellbinding spoken sharpness of this hacked away plateau. Bill Callahan had experimented with lo-fi recording techniques and dissonance as well as more sophisticated instrumentation over more than a decade (Sewn to the Sky in 1990, Forgotten Foundation in 1992, Julius Caesar in 1993, Wild Love in 1995, The Doctor Came at Dawn in 1996, Red Apple Falls in 1997, Knock Knock in 1999, Dongs of Sevotion in 2000, Rain on Lens in 2001, Accumulation:None in 2002, and Supper in 2003) before producing his final album under the name Smog: 'A River Ain't Too Much to Love' at Pedernales Studio in Spicewood, Texas in 2004. The sessions featured Bill Callahan on vocals, guitar, and various instruments; Connie Lovatt on vocals and bass guitar; Jim White on drums; Thor Harris on hammer dulcimer, airdrums, and zills; Travis Weller on fiddle; and Joanna Newsom on piano.
Callahan would reveal: "I tend to want to have a unifying theme to a bunch of songs I’m working on. I noticed that, unconsciously, rivers or water had sprung up in three or four of the numbers. Then it became conscious and I thought maybe I should let the river get in there as much as possible. It kind of naturally inserted itself in so many places and I was very happy about that ... Family is all there is. And thinking of nature as the mother you want to protect more and more as she gets older is pretty easy. So these lyrics address environment of nature, geography and family. But also (and this is something common to many Drag City artists) the cast of A River Ain’t Too Much To Love recalls a certain kind of community–with the specific players and the live setting in which it was recorded...It was very collaborative, since we’d been on the road for a week before recording, playing these unrecorded songs. Things still changed in the studio, but I like to think those changes were made only because we’d arrived at a point that might’ve been missed if we didn’t know the songs so well. The ineffable support the other players supplied was like that of a family. Raising spirits, arguing points."
"Say Valley Maker"
"Rock Bottom Riser"
"I Feel Like the Mother of the World"
"In the Pines"
"Let Me See the Colts"
'A River Ain't Too Much to Love'
All songs written by Bill Callahan except where noted.