March 03, 2004

Leah Callahan "Even Sleepers"

There's a restrained weirdness floating under the surface of Even Sleepers, something along the lines of Nick Cave or even Foetus. That's easy to think, because she's singing about vampires and death and destruction. Of course, when you have a great singing voice, you can get away with just about anything. Callahan is a wonderful singer, at times reminiscent of Karen Carpenter. Leah Callahan--formerly of Betwixt and Turkish Delight--is a jazzy singer, but she's not really singing jazz; she's singing torch songs, but she's not being campy about it; she's singing songs of love, but not for me. On Even Sleepers, her debut solo album, it's just her voice with the most minimal of accompaniment: a piano here, a guitar there, some flurries of percussion and the occasional accordian--and, on "Strip Mall," she performs acapella. The songs are pretty, and though they seem light, they're actually quite deep; songs like "The Sadness I Admire" and "Love Some Thing" ache with a deep pain that comes only from a torn-out heart, a battered soul and a world-weary point of view. No matter what she's singing, it all sounds the same: beautiful. The only problem? It's too brief! Nine songs in only twenty-two minutes? More, please!

--Joseph Kyle

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