In different recent interviews marking the release of his new record, Apocalypse, the singer and songwriter Bill Callahan said that he's not a fan of poetry, nor of Bob Dylan. Callahan, who performed under the name Smog for years, sings with a deep, resonant and imposing baritone. His voice is almost entirely without affect, but that somehow adds to its intensity. Dylan, Callahan said, struck him as unpleasant and uncomfortable. OK, so he might not like Dylan, but listening to Apocalypse it's hard to imagine that Callahan isn't a keen student of poetry. He writes his lyrics — which get half-spoken as much as sung — out first before writing the music and melodies. The songs seem to be about wandering, about freedom, about the promise and disappointment of America, maybe about herding animals, riding in silence. It's deep stuff. Terse, existential cowboy stuff. Condensed and focused and elusive. “Will I feel you riding on my back?” goes one line in the song “One Fine Morning.” He goes on, “For I am a part of the road/The hardest part.” Fans of Leonard Cohen, Will Oldham, Gil Scott-Heron, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash will want to soak in this ruminative music for a while.