Susan Calloway’s new single, “Time For This”, should further solidify her standing as one of the pre-eminent singer/songwriters working on the indie scene today and may prove to be her ticket to increased mainstream recognition. This moving piece has a relatively spartan arrangement that gives Calloway’s marvelous voice room to roam freely and carry the song on her back. She does a fantastic job. Her long standing association with producer Gerard Smerek couples her with a sonic architect who knows how to precisely frame her voice for maximum effect without ever losing her way in a tangled mess of near-miss artistic decisions and over-indulgent post production touches. This confluence of forces results in one of the year’s best singles thus far and sets up Calloway’s future with great artistry and tastefulness. Songs like this are rare; they are intelligent music compositions capable of engaging listeners both emotionally and physically. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to hear this song without feeling moved by its passion and struck a little agog by its superb and deceptively simple construction.
She makes it sound effortless. There’s a steady rising and falling in her voice landing in all the right places illustrating how closely she ties her vocal to the musical arrangement. Her phrasing is exemplary. Calloway twists and turns the lyric according to its emotional needs. It is a memorably theatrical performance without ever sounding too overwrought. It’s the key to a song like this. In the hands of a lesser vocalist and performer, this might be treated with a cudgel rather than the finesse it deserves or else receive a technically impressive but bloodless delivery. Calloway, instead, uncovers layers within the song by attempting to embody its point of view in every line and unleashing just enough of her vocal range to accomplish the feat.
The choice to record with such spartan accompaniment is smart. “Time for This” has elegantly composed piano accompaniment showing the same patience and good taste as Calloway’s vocal and there’s some ghostly color provided by keyboards fleshing things out with a little light color. One cannot help but admire the well honed creative instincts going into this composition. The song does quite a bit with apparently very little and there’s something about the minimalism of its approach. It’s likewise drawn out no longer than it needs to be – some recording artists are earnest enough to push running times well past their selling point, but there is such a thing as too good of a thing.
The lyrics stir up a lot of conflicting emotions and this gives the track a strongly human quality not weighed down by the self-consciousness of art many other such songs might lack. Susan Calloway is a flesh and blood artist fully engaged with life’s joys, struggles, and the will to carry on past heartache. Few songs can encompass all these emotions and find such a wonderful interpreter, but “Time for This” is as deeply felt and resolute of a musical statement you are likely to hear in 2017.