‘Seductive, intoxicating and mind-blowingly theatrical, it belongs at the heart of Calista’s very own musical.’
Intro to Calista:
Sometimes you hear an artist so groundbreaking in their musicality you can’t believe you haven’t discovered them sooner. Likewise you sometimes can’t believe others haven’t. In the case of Calista Kazuko both are true. Featured last month under the guise of ‘Voice of Aiko’ – a project which highlights the global prescription drug epidemic – ‘Prescription Dream’ was an instant wake up call. However, in this latest release under her own name, ‘Sweet Jailbird’, we get a window into the sheer mind-blowing musicality and creativity that she possesses. Read more at: Behind the Music: Interview with Calista Kazuko.
Delicately pushing to the fore, an infectious mid pitch bass line emerges from the snare led backing. Creeping like a suspicious wanderer moving through the back streets, it’s completely intoxicating and joined by vowel based vocals the whole scene is set. It’s already an effortlessly enticing sound however, it is nothing compared to what Calista’s opening entry brings.
Encapsulating the perfect tone alongside the accompaniment, the smokey delivery of ‘Locked up, no fun, no balls, no chain’ seductively draws us into the jailhouse. Crying of 1920’s prohibition, the transportive musicality takes you right there while the softer
elements vocal are contrasted with more dramatic, sudden outbursts. Effortlessly theatrical, there’s an incredible sense of story-telling within both the vocal and the aptly vampish style of chordal piano, ringing guitar and gently developing drums.
Switching to focus on male vocals for the chorus, the atmosphere briefly returns to the calmer side with the title lyrics forming the most wonderful of vocal hooks. Of course, with the pre-chorus having alternated in style there is a hint – well more than a hint – of drama emerging. Though less explosive than what has occured – and indeed what is to come – the accented elements make it more dramatic than you may first think. Compositionally it’s a masterclass in how to give enough, but save enough for further interest. And wow does the interest come.
Moving through the second verse, which features lyrics such as ‘no dress, no heels, no champagne in my hand’ we revisit the seductive nature in more ways than one. But, just as we re-settle into this we are transported once more. This time though, the sound is explosive to an extent that the rest of track feels somewhat ‘understated.’ It isn’t. Not in any way. But in context, it is. Additionally, as we continue to listen, the sense of theatre hits new heights and cries out for a whole musical with this track at heart of it. Unsurprisingly, there is one on the way.
In keeping with this, the sense of intent switches to become instrumentally, rather than vocally focused. Initially brought about via a dirty sounding guitar improvisation, you feel like on stage Calista would be moving about, trying to suss out how to get out from behind the bars. Trust me it’s impossible to not conjure up your own images. However, with Calista reaffirming that she is ‘such a good girl’ and a combination of dissonant and harmonic piano leading us to the track’s final moments, the only thing you want to do is ‘pass her the key and help her break free.’
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Find out more about Calista Kazuko and her music at: Behind the Music: Interview with Calista Kazuko and Track Review: Voice of Aiko: Prescription Dream