Susan Calloway – Time For This
Helmed by famed producer Gerard Smerek, Susan Calloway’s latest release “Time For This” is one of the finest singles yet of 2017. The piano laden ballad reaches deep within and glows with a beautifully wrought inner fire evident in every syllable of Calloway’s vocal. Calloway is a young singer with the air and phrasing of a seasoned professional, but yet there’s an inspired tenor to her work that’s irresistible and inescapable. The same sterling production values defining Calloway’s earlier work are in full evidence on this performance – the sharp and incisive lyrics, the dramatic atmospherics that never risk self-indulgence, and a keen eared balance between Calloway’s voice and accompanying instrumentation. Few performers, from wherever they hail or are based, challenge listeners to feel in the same way that Calloway does. This has supreme entertainment value but, by any measure, qualifies as a profoundly artistic work deserving widespread attention and respect.
The recording is top notch. Calloway’s voice and the piano playing never compete for space in the mix and, instead, seamlessly wind around each other and maintain that balance for the entirety of the tune. Calloway’s singing has genuine commercial appeal, but there’s more than a little blues in what she does; the emotive sharpness of her phrasing, the careful attention she pays to the music, and the dark night of the soul strain in her voice are all in keeping with that influence. All singers have their influences, but there’s never a second of outright imitation on this release. Calloway, instead, owns the experience depicted within and her performance has a rousing quality reaching far beyond what mere pop entertainers might have accomplished with this song. Producer Gerard Smerek is likely responsible for much of the song’s immediate success, but even her work ultimately relies on Calloway holding up her end of the creative bargain and she does so with true soul and sophistication.
The music is handled with great aplomb. “Time for This” has stirring, eloquent piano lines acting as a second vocalist of sorts and the “duet” aspects of this performance make it particularly memorable. The absence of conventional band instrumentation is a strong point for this release – it focuses listeners’ attention on the essential, especially Calloway’s voice and the lyrical material. She never wastes a word as either a singer or writer. Everything matters here and the writing hits the mark. The words fall in all the right places against the piano playing and it’s obviously a product of the considerable effort invested to get this performance just right. It works because the work put into it has been fixed on one goal – crafting an emotionally honest, passionately engaged work of musical art.
Susan Calloway has succeeded quite well. She applies just the right amount of pressure to this performance that makes use of its dramatic potential. However, she never pushes too hard, not even for a second, and drags the track into melodramatic territory. It’s a fine line to straddle, but Calloway manages to serve up a song with real commercial value and tremendous artistry.