After almost 20 years of using the alias Smog for his music, Bill Callahan switched to his given name for his releases after 2005's A River Ain't Too Much to Love. The 2007 EP Diamond Dancer and full-length Woke on a Whaleheart both mixed the intimate, reflective, largely acoustic sound of later Smog albums like Supper and A River with gospel, soul, and pop elements, and boasted arrangements by former Royal Trux mastermind Neil Hagerty. For 2009's Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, Callahan returned to the more intimate acoustic-based sound of latter-era Smog albums, featuring string and brass arrangements by Brian Beattie. The live album Rough Travel for a Rare Thing arrived in March 2010, and in July Callahan issued his 79-page "epistolary novelette" Letters to Emma Bowlcut, comprised of 62 letters from a nameless protagonist to a woman he saw at a party. Callahan kicked off 2011 with Apocalypse, a more uptempo collection of seven country- and blues-inspired rock tunes that recalled some of his edgier work with Smog. A softer offering, Dream River, was issued in the fall of 2013.