Callaghan herself hinted during the evening on several occasions how the twin continent drive of her career is rapidly taking shape. An increased level of acclaim back in her UK homeland is proving a continual touring pull with several working trips this year and more in the pipeline for 2016. This show at the Hare and Hounds, Birmingham was a second visit to the city this year and acted as the final gig of the current tour. Callaghan and her keyboard playing sidekick: Dan, were determined to have a blast and they rattled through a set around an hour and a quarter long with a sentimental twist at the end. Not surprisingly, material from the latest record A HISTORY OF NOW took precedence and reminded folks of its unrelenting appeal, which extended to selective national airplay.
What was apparent from witnessing Callaghan during the show was the impact upon her from mixing with the Nashville singer-songwriter crowd and there’s no finer place than Music City to hone your craft. From a personal viewpoint, Callaghan excels best when sinking into her wonderful ballads aided only by piano, succulent vocals and a heart spilling out a story. This was made clear in a recent review of her album and sealed tonight with sumptuous renditions of ‘I’ll Take You Away’, ‘When You Loved Me’ and ‘Who Would I Be’. The centre of this trio was introduced with the most heart rendering story you could wish to hear and Callaghan was highly skilled in the art of stage banter throughout the show.
‘Best Year’ and ‘Crazy Beautiful Life’ were greeted enthusiastically by an increasingly appreciative and responsive audience. Whilst the pop pretensions of the recorded versions were almost swept away on stage, these songs still fall short in my book when matched up against the gorgeous ballads which melt you away. There exists the conundrum for me as a willing listener, bowled over by the assured performer, but mindful of the actual artist’s preference and desires of a growing fan base.
Support for this evening, and several other dates on the tour, was provided by UK singer-song writing duo Rosalie Deighton and Steve Balsamo. Under the combined surname banner Balsamo Deighton, the duo is due to release their debut album in this format early next year. Among the songs assigned to their thirty minute opening slot were several from this upcoming release including ‘Blue’, ‘These Four Walls’ and the title track ‘Unfolding’. Awash with biting satire, a delectable dry wit and unassuming stage style, the duo waded through a mire of sad songs with mortal intent. A few killings would have planted it in the realms of folk, with the slightly lighter vocal tinge heading the sound in an Americana direction, either way the performance was spot on and the album is eagerly awaited.