by Sarah Groth
Leah Calvert’s new album, Satellite, was released earlier this month with ten tracks overflowing with daring vocals, vibrant instrumentals and stunning lyrics. She worked in collaboration with co-producers Rick Lollar and Marlon Patton who helped create the rock’n’roll component to these songs.
“Wild Things” is a country and blues infused song full of unearthly, wistful tunes from both Calvert’s vocals and the stringed instrumentals. With a sorrowful, but glassy voice, she unleashes lyrics composed of detailed imagery and words with hidden meanings. The following song, “Build a Ship” comprises a more bluegrass and jazz feel. While the strings flicker between the breathes in Calvert’s mischievous words, it’s her lovely vocals that will be the thief to listener’s own breathing. If you’re in search for a new roadtrip song, make sure to give, “Two Lines Upon a Page” a listen. This track is continuous ebullience and liveliness with drums running rampantly on pure exhilaration.
It’s “Satellite” that alters not only the tone, but general direction of the album altogether. In this track, Calvert contorts her vocals into a ghostly, but powerful expression. The lyrics are laced with an intense, gripping despondency, especially in the lines starting at 1:03, “Send you up in a satellite. See you to the edge, walk you out into the night. Send you up in a satellite. Beyond the new devide.” With notes carefully spiraling downward, “This is Now” glimpses deeper into Calvert’s vulnerability and suppressed struggles. Throughout this song, she details her desires of a certain situation and ultimately concludes the song with accepting realities truth by singing, “But this is now and fear and possibilities take time away from singing lullabies to you.”
Don’t let the title of this next song, “Sleep” confuse you for relaxation. This song is run on insomnia and it possesses a charging, up beat tempo and a voice so electric it could fuel anyone’s tired eyes. Unlike the last track, “Cider Theme Homes Not Far” is calming with a quietness divergent to the previous songs. Entering at 1:57 is a violin solo that only adds to this song’s beautiful tranquil aroma. “Liquor and a Consequence” is rough, old rock vibes and hushed high notes. Calvert’s voice is like a rollercoaster, full of unpredictable twists and turns. This song won’t make you nauseous and dizzy, but it will certainly give you chills.
The following song is a tear jerker, so while listening to, “Day After Tomorrow” you may want an emergency box of tissues within reach. It’s a story about a soldier in war longing for home and fearing she’ll never make it. Calvert achingly sings questions that dark moments tend to pull from people, such as, “Tell me how does God choose? Whose prayers does he refuse? Who turns the wheel? Who throws the dice on the day after tomorrow?” Delicately sung, yes, but the history and trama to this experience speaks momentums on a perspective many live without ever understanding. The last track, “American Gallows” is simply chaos with cymbals clashing, but in the most elegant and graceful way. There’s a hint of a jazz element and several doses of dark honesty intertwined throughout this song. At 3:42 Calvert sings an impressive high note and holds it long past the point of needing oxygen.
Most of Calvert’s songs are more disconsolate and mysterious, but more importantly, they are so unbelievably human. She’s not just shaking mountains with this album. Calvert is building her own right from her past’s ashes.