Bailey Callahan - The A & B Sides
Florida-born and raised Bailey Callahan is a no-nonsense, sassy young woman with a down-home DNA that seeps into every note and word of the nine songs on this debut album. Programmed like a vinyl LP, after the fifth song the listener is invited to flip the record over to continue listening. A mature, yet fresh blend of soaring 1980s Southern rock, 1990s mainstream country depth and some contemporary Nashville sheen, this youngster’s songs are intense, impassioned and full of genuine heart and soul. The qualities which make this record such a compelling listen—deep musicality, honking grooves, smart pacing, a balance of melody and flash—are indeed found throughout each and every song. Determined to pursue a musical career, Bailey moved to Nashville at 17 years old, following high school graduation. Booking her own shows, she was playing more than 150 gigs a year until the pandemic put her burgeoning touring schedule on hold. Now 21, she has released this impressive album, having built a dedicated social media following via sheer hard work and determination.
The importance of grasping the good things in life has not only become a priority in Bailey’s day-to-day during these rather uncertain times, but also serves as the lyrical cornerstone of this debut album. She had a hand in writing all of these songs, four by herself and the other five with such Nashville writers as Jared Anderson, Johnny Clawson, Davis Branch and Kyle Sturrock. Comprising songs that emphasise positivity, she opens with Bitter—a typical classic rock era swipe at moving on from a relationship that’s not working, without sounding too retro. She maintains the up-tempo mood with Higher, her passionate sensuality smoulders around the edges, occasionally erupting into a full-blown brushfire. There’s more fiery vocal works in the pounding My Kind Of Man, reverberating with bluesy guitar licks and shaking rhythms that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Lynyrd Skynyrd album,
She slows it down for the gentle reminisce of Grandaddy Proud, a sepia-tinged, sweet ode to being young and carefree, curious and wide-eyed and how a loved one is never far from thoughts, however long they’ve been gone. A beautiful dawning of a blossoming new romance, with all the uncertainties, doubts and hopes, unfurl in the wondrous New. A gorgeous arrangement of cascading steel, fiddle and acoustic guitars swirl around her heartfelt vocal. This girl sure can sing. She maintains the ‘country’ feel with the steel-drenched Dawning, a song of realisation that a relationship has run its course and it really is time to move on. Good girls don’t usually sing about one-night stands, but this girl lays out how City Lights can make you blind and lead you into the kind of situation you would normally avoid. She closes the album of two sides with the piano ballad, Together Again, a break-up song that builds into a hopeful dramatic climax.
Her powerful voice fits perfectly to these heavy rock songs and melodic country ballads. She is definitely a versatile vocalist, one that oozes confidence. Combine that with her fearlessness and obvious work ethic, and the way that she is connecting with her mainly twenty-something audience, Bailey Callahan could easily become one of the major stars of the future.