ALBUM REVIEWS: Making her fans’ day with cut-glass voice
A south Lincolnshire singer earning rave reviews Stateside recently returned home to sing about how she went from risk to reward.
Boston-born, Grantham-raised Callaghan, real name Georgina Callaghan, completed a ten-date UK tour during April which featured songs from her latest EPs.
Both “The Other Side” and “Skin on Skin” have a movie soundtrack feel due to producers Starr Parodi and Jeff Fair, responsible for music from three James Bond films.
What is untouched though is Callaghan’s cut glass vocals, comparable to The Beautiful South’s Jacqui Abbott, Eddi Reader (Fairground Attraction) and Imogen Heap, the reason why "Sold Out" signs went up for at least four of the UK shows.
Callaghan said: "It was a bit of a shock to the system when I came back from California to the UK.
"But it's always nice to come home because I get to see my family and friends, catch up with everybody and visit some familiar places."
Before reviewing the EPs themselves, a little history lesson is needed to explain how Callaghan went from Boston and Grantham, to Atlanta, Georgia, and Nashville, Tennessee, to her current base of Los Angeles, California.
She said: "I was born in Boston, where my dad was stationed in the RAF, living there for the first six weeks of my life.
"Then he moved to other RAF bases, mostly in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, with my secondary school education being done in Grantham as I lived just outside the town.
"Music has always been a part of regular family life and my dad was a guitar player, while both of my older sisters were brought up to play instruments.
"At the age of 14, I wrote my first song for a BBC TV show and that opened the gates to my music career because when I did the show, I started working with other producers.
"That gave me the bug to be a singer-songwriter and to move to London as soon as I could to further my career.
"I was so glad that I did because it was a lot of fun and I don't know what else would have pushed into writing my own songs, instead of singing other people's songs."
Of the two EPs, “The Other Side” takes Callaghan into a completely different arena from the “Americana” she has been linked with.
All four tracks, including the anthemic “Solid Ground” and “I Don’t Know How To Lose You”, deserve a wider audience.
Callaghan said: "A lot of people talk about how the music industry has opened up because of the internet.
"But it's still tricky to get your music in front of people which is why I enjoy touring because you can take people on a journey with you and turn them into fans.
"Even if people listen to music more and more now, the local shows are the one thing that you can't replay later on.
"People do want to know what category of music you fit in, but it's getting harder and harder these days to classify my music because it crosses into a number of categories.
"So I never worry about what musical category people put me in."
Meanwhile, “Skin on Skin” starts with the lighter “Better Together” before soaring with “Skin on Skin” and “Broken”.
Both EPs, as well as Callaghan's four albums, are likely to be snapped up during her nine-date US tour which includes shows in Philadelphia, Tampa, her former home city of Atlanta and Chicago.
Callaghan said: "When I moved down to London from Lincolnshire as an 18-year-old, I knew nothing about the music industry.
"I went to live with my sister who was training to be a lawyer and because she had a friend living with her, who was sleeping in the living room, the only space I could use was under the kitchen table where I could set up a sleeping bag.
"I sang in bands where I thought 'there's more of us on stage than there are in the audience', but it enabled me to have a perspective on things so that when the bigger breaks came along, I could appreciate the people who have come to listen to my music and hear my songs.
"Also, I know that I can do the same show whether there's ten people in the room or 1,000.
"So I went from gig to gig, trying to learn as I went along, until the opportunity came to go to the USA."
But Callaghan is in no doubt that her own life-changing turning point came in 2009 when a message on social media to Atlanta-based singer-songwriter/producer Shaun Mullins changed the course of her life.
Mullins, most famous for his 1998 UK top ten hit "Lullaby", went on to produce Callaghan's debut album "Life in Full Colour" in 2012.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Callaghan said: "It was one of those things that came to me as an idea, having been a fan of Shaun Mullins' music for so many years and knowing that I could get hold of him online.
"I thought to myself 'What have I got to lose?' and I can tell him my story, along with how much of an influence he was on me becoming a songwriter myself.
"But at the time, I also thought 'Nothing's going to come of it', until I found out later that Shaun's sound engineer had seen my email and heard my material online.
"He'd said to Shaun 'You need to listen to this' and my songs then somehow got to Shaun's ears.
"It was good timing in that he was open to a new project and I ended up going on tour with him.
"Shaun is an amazing man to be in a position to want to help other artists, but I thought that I'd only be in the USA for a year, recording my first album and thinking 'This is going to be an amazing experience where I'll learn a lot.'
"Now I get to headline my own shows over the USA, having clocked up about 400,000 miles with my husband and our red Toyota car which we call Wilson.
"It's all part of the story of how I went from Boston and Grantham, to London and Atlanta, then Nashville because there were a lot of friends who lived there or were moving there.
"Nashville had always been a place that intrigued me so I went to see what it was all about, spending four years there until I felt that I wanted a change.
Sheridan Smith is said to be the queen of Lincolnshire singers, but Callaghan is bang on course to overthrow her judging by these two EPs.
She said: "There are a lot of things that I've never done before and with my new CDSs, I was working together with people who have completely different musical backgrounds.
"But I've been very clear with all of my producers that the voice has to be the main thing, with everything else there to support the sound and increase the emotion."
For more about Callaghan and her music, visit https://www.callaghansongs.com/home
Review and interview by Winston Brown