The answer : One.
That’s not to say there are no other musicians there, but there is just one I would say I know well enough to remember and have from her first singles been a fan. I refer of course to Marian Call, someone who has brought back a different style of music than the plethora of utter nonsense that floods markets these days.
Her music is the strangest medley of folk, pop, jazz, acoustic-rock, classical and maybe even a little gospel that I’ve ever seen – and I’ve loved just about all her tracks.
I came across her first through her album Got To Fly which was a brilliant sample of her style. Also as importantly as the music itself, I loved the humour and awareness that flowed through her songs and the periodic peppering of geek culture that she infused into some songs, with some being outright geek-outs/homages to things she clearly loves.
She reminds me of Joni Mitchell more than a little (Marian says she’s a big influence) and something about her reminds me of the inventive, experimental and “anti-folk” stylings of Regina Spektor at times.
Her newest album, Something Fierce, is a two disc release but if you are unsure, head over to her bandcamp page where you can not only buy it online/digitally, but you can also (for free) stream and listen to the entire album. I promise if you do, you’ll want to pick up the album just to be able to listen to it again later. Home to a monster nineteen tracks, the album is possibly her best work till date and one I listened through all at once when I tried it out at the bandcamp link above. It is filled to the brim and then some with lovely, mellow acoustic sounds, some fantastic lyrics all around and soulful tunes to go with her amazing, lilting vocals.
She says that this album has taken her a couple of years to slowly put together and write/create and you know what? Listening to it, you can tell. You can find a remarkable depth and variety in her music and if you’ve heard her earlier music you can see how much she’s grown and how much she pushes her range in this album – vocally, musically, lyrically.
As someone who is considered by friends and peers to be a lover of “good” music and takes great joy in exploring genres and styles and discovering good musicians both on and off the mainstream – Ms. Call has definitely been one of the few real gems to be discovered the past few years. Her popularity growing constantly through the fan-base and word-of-mouth is a fantastic and heartening example of how just loving the music and the love of listeners and fans can be enough for a musician to be able to keep doing what they are good at and not be dependent on the big labels alone and need to do world-wide heavily sponsored tours and all that. Sure, it’s got it’s upside as well, but I suppose that’s a question of personal desire and interest and from what I’ve seen, she seems pretty darn happy with the way she operates even now.
She is unorthodox in her choices, using an old-school typewriter as a percussive sound in her geek anthem ‘I’ll still be a geek after nobody thinks it’s chic‘ among many others. Some you notice, some you don’t but the end result is always worth listening to, repeatedly. But while her music and lyrics alone would be enough to garner her fans, she has one of the most interesting and finest voices I’ve heard in a long, long while. It’s the kind of voice that you want to hear not just singing some lovely tunes, but one that sounds nice even in plain speech. Couple all that with her own in-built enthusiasm, energy and creativity and you have one very interesting and talented musician.
Her creativity even shows in the variety of album types and tones she’s produced. Her first album – Vanilla – was created in 2007 for friends and family and such but like pretty much her entire fan-base, the music spread from hand-to-hand and went ear-to-ear and found a following. Before you knew it, she was popular outside of her state and had fans all over the continent and through the internet, even further away. She showed her inventive and experimental streak early on with her follow-up effort with the “Songs of the Month” project which was pretty much that – how many musicians do you know of who’ve tried to do that? Not even the cookie-cutter pop-factory that has armies of song-writers and musicians to create songs for artists to just sing and move along (if they so choose) undertake such an adventure, let alone make it work! It culminated in the 2008 album Songs of the Month and Singles.which was filled with her now (pretty much-)trademark sounds which mixes music, geekiness and a tongue-in-cheekiness in her special style.
But her next album (mentioned above already) was Got To Fly which is a personal favourite for numerous reasons, the tracks being a reason each and others besides, not least of which is how much love for her geek-culture roots comes out in this album – particularly in relation to Battlestar Galactica (considered one of the finest drama’s in TV history) and Firefly, Joss Whedon‘s epic space-western mashup. In fact a song she wrote for a contest called the “Sing a Song of Saffron” entitled ‘It was good for you too’, homaging the character of the same name from Firefly itself, won first prize and much acclaim from almost everyone including the lovely Christina Hendricks who immortalised the character. And man it is one of the most genuinely sultry pieces of music I’ve heard in the longest time.
Bottom line, you should not only be listening to her new album, but I would highly recommend you check out her entire catalogue at the earliest possible instance.