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Callaghan: ‘Summer Days’

Acclaimed UK singer-songwriter and BBC Radio 2 favourite Callaghan returns this summer to release her new self-titled album ‘Callaghan’ on August 31st. And ahead of that will be performing at Barclaycard British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park, July 15.

Moving further towards pop than ever before, whilst maintaining the honest emotion which has already won the singer-songwriter an army of fans, ‘Callaghan’ is the culmination of Callaghan’s three EP project – which she’s been recording in LA and releasing over the last year.

Since the release of her last studio album, ‘A History of Now’, Callaghan has been developing her sound in California working with producers like Anthony Resta (Elton John, Duran Duran and Blondie) and Starr Parodi and Jeff Fair, who have made music for some of Hollywood’s biggest films including Harry Potter, Mission Impossible and James Bond. “Working in LA has allowed me to embrace elements of modern pop and cinematic sounds into my song writing,” says Callaghan. “Working with these producers encouraged me to dig deeper as a performer and artist and as a result, this album reflects me more than anything else I’ve ever recorded.”
“I feel like the move to Los Angeles offered new inspiration in a lot of different ways,” says Callaghan on the new album, which sees her playing with brass sections, a 30-piece orchestra, and a gospel choir for the first time. “I decided to record the album in sections and it felt a lot more liberating, continuing to write as the year went on, and collecting my 4 favourite songs together every few months, rather than being in the studio working on 12 songs in one go.”

Highlights include the opening ‘Silence’ inspired by Sia and Florence and The Machine, and the thought-provoking The End of the World which features guest vocals from Louis Price (ex lead singer of The Temptations and The Drifters). ‘Better Together’ is an uplifting love song celebrating unity written with Jeff Silbar (who co-wrote Wind Beneath My Wings), ‘Skin on Skin’ is Callaghan’s call for face-to-face contact rather than living life through a screen, and there’s euphoric pop in tracks like ‘The Other Side’ – written in reaction to the state of world politics.

Elsewhere there’s the uplifting Celtic-influenced ‘Solid Ground,’ the understated ‘Surrender,’ which illustrates the beauty in a simple vocal led ballad and the raw emotion of “I Don’t Know How To Lose You” – a powerful song about grief and losing someone you love. There’s also that full 30-piece orchestra on the heartfelt ‘Broken’ and ‘All Through The Night’ – Callaghan’s lullaby from a parent to a child and her favourite song she’s ever recorded. “Writing it was one of those rare moments where you feel like someone has planted a complete song in your head and it just falls out.”

And don’t miss the album’s closing song, the feel good new single, ‘Summer Days’: “I wanted to write a song that was full of happiness and optimism and I was reminiscing about the long, care-free days of summer you enjoy as a kid.”

Originally from Lincolnshire, Callaghan moved to the USA in 2010 to tour and record with Atlanta-based Grammy nominee Shawn Mullins. In 2015, she recorded her second album ‘A History of Now’ in Nashville and, after five years of building her audience across the USA, returned to Britain to tour. Since then she’s seen her profile build substantially in the UK. Highlights include three singles playlisted on BBC Radio 2, and two appearances at the massive C2C festival, multiple headline tour dates and festival appearances at Cornbury, The Secret Garden Party and Cambridge Folk Festival. She’s also played live sessions for BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris and Good Morning Sunday and BBC London’s Gaby Roslin and Robert Elms. She recently finished her biggest UK tour to date, including a show at London’s prestigious Bush Hall, where she was introduced by Bob Harris. Callaghan returns to the UK on July 15 to play in Hyde Park as part of Barclaycard British Summer Time, where she joins the likes of Paul Simon, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt.

SEEN was lucky enough to get a quick word in with Callaghan who, fresh from her release ‘Summer Days’, has certainly got the weather for playing Barclaycard British Summer Time on July 15 in Hyde Park…

SEEN: Congratulations on ‘Summer Days’! It’s at once happy yet somehow wistful. Does it seem like perfect timing, given the unusual weather?

I can’t believe how lucky the timing of it is given the amazing weather in the UK at the moment! I wrote the song with one of my producers, Starr Parodi. We wanted to write a song that was full of happiness and optimism and were reminiscing about the care-free days of summer when you’re a kid and the days seem to go on forever. The song is about being taken back in your mind to that feeling of endless summer, warm nights, sunshine on your face and a complete feeling of bliss.

We had a lot of fun recording this song, including going down to Santa Monica Pier, which was just a few minutes from the studio in LA, to record the sounds of the ocean and people enjoying the warm weather.

When I looked online the other day it was hotter in the UK than in LA though!

S: You’re playing alongside Paul Simon, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt! No stress then… How do you prepare for a big festival like British Summer Time?

C: I was so thrilled to get the call inviting me to be part of the festival, and to be on the line up with so many amazing acts. I’m a big fan of Paul Simon and James Taylor so getting to play on the same bill as them and watch them perform is really amazing.

When I lived in London I used to spend a lot of time cycling in Hyde Park, and going to shows there, so to get the chance to play there myself feels pretty special. I’ve been doing quite a few rehearsals with my band for the festival, and we’ll be performing lots of songs from the new album as well as some from my previous record. It will also be the very first live performance of my single “Summer Days”.

There’s nothing better than getting to play music out in the sunshine and soaking up the atmosphere of the festival so I can’t wait.

S: Is it liberating to move towards a pop sound?

C: The move to LA has been really great in terms of getting to work with new producers and writers and explore a more pop sound. I like to call it “cinematic pop” because a lot of the songs have very atmospheric production, with brass sections, orchestras and gospel choirs. I named the album “Callaghan” because I felt it reflected me as an artist more than anything I’ve recorded to this point. I’ve explored more of my sound and my voice than ever before, and delved deeper into my soul through these songs.

S: Who were your musical influences when you were growing up?

C: I had a pretty varied musical background, and was exposed to a lot of different styles of music that influenced me. I grew up listening to and playing a lot of classical music, but also my parent’s records which were by the great singer-songwriters such as Elton John, James Taylor and Bob Dylan. One of sisters, who is 6 years older than me, was into a lot of the Brit pop bands and the House music of the 90’s so I listened to a lot of that with her. One of my favourite moments as a teenager was going to see Faithless at Brixton Academy with her and feeling like life didn’t get any cooler than that!

And I still have Elton John and Falthless on my spotify playlist so it has stayed with me!

S: Where do you go in London for a little solitude and contemplation?

C: I really love coming back to London whenever I’m back in the UK, and exploring different parts of the city. When I lived in London I was up near Hampstead Heath and used to cycle up there or walk around the heath at the weekend. I even got married up there so it holds so many happy memories for me and I think it’s one of the most peaceful and magical places in London.