With a UK tour to follow later in April, a timely reminder of what we might get to see comes in the shape of Callaghan's second Acoustic Coffee House album, a mish mash of her songs in slightly stripped back versions to the ones you may be familiar with, married with new songs and others that have had an influence on her over the years with the odd special guest making an appearance along the way. Callaghan live is always a slightly intriguing proposition, she may turn up with any line up of instrumentalists memorably once appearing with just a cello player for company.
This record mainly recorded in Nashville with 4 tracks live in Atlanta sees Callaghan working within the confines of a small combo, starting with her take on Buddy Holly's "Raining In My Heart", with the background effects being generated from a looped vocal sound over which she lays a gentle keyboard sound and an almost dreamy vocal. "Before The Time Runs Out" is a new Callaghan song, a piano ballad, that has featured in recent live shows and finds her in a deeply contemplative mood "What if there's nothing - nothing more than now?"
Her 3 EP's in one year project is initially represented by "Better Together" which sees a combination of whistling and banjo's making an almost calypso like sound with just some additional backing vocals fleshing out the sound. It's a gently uptempo look at a relationship, with this version having a charming warmth about it because of the simplicity and the backing vocals,
The first special guest of the record sees Erick Baker make an appearance for a song co written with Callaghan, "Unspoken Words". Callaghan taking the first verse on tune which initially has a simple acoustic guitar backing, with Erick taking the second before they continue as a full duet. The addition of the piano does build up the sound but it is the interaction between the 2 vocalists that really makes this track. As influences go, there can be few better for a singer songwriter than James Taylor, who is represented here by "Fire & Rain", an American standard, repositioned with the piano as lead on this wondrous ballad. It would be hard to ruin this iconic song however equally it is hard to add much although Callaghan is able to imbue some real pathos into the key "I always thought that i'd see you again" that lifts this far above the average cover version.
Another original comes in the shape of "I Was Made For You", which seems to squeeze in slightly too many words than it should, giving it a jaunty happy feel on the verses as expresses its feelings of love wrapped up in just over 2 minutes. The "Life In Full Colour" album is represented by "Look Around" which opens to a church like organ which is apt as the vocal is quite angelic.
More influential songs follow, "Love Hurts" is performed as a relatively simple duet with Shawn Mullins, and we can ponder which version was the original influence. Perhaps a less obvious cover appears in the shape of Stevie Wonder's "Signed Sealed Delivered" which comes with something of a Liberace style intro to fool the Atlanta audience before it launches into a more familiar version. There are many qualities in Callaghan's voice, a natural rich soulfulness is not the first that springs to mind however this version locates a hitherto untapped talent including a spectacular closing note.
Another trip through the back catalogue takes us the "Callaghan" album for live versions of "Broken" and "If You Miss Me When I'm Gone", the former comes with a string backing and a quite haunting vocal on this almost Bond like anthem, while the latter commences with a reference to Shawn Mullins "Lullaby" before moving on to being the considered piano ballad, Closing out with a Coldplay cover, "U,F.O" , Callaghan breathes life into what I'd always thought to be a slightly dreary tune.
As an album, it's unlikely to win many new converts but there is plenty to be had for any Callaghan aficionados