Wild Woman (EP)

Calista Garcia

Independent release, 2020

http://www.calistagarcia.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/12/2020

At just 19 years old, Calista Garcia already has an impressive collection of awards at home on the shelf: 2020 National YoungArts Gold Winner in Voice/Singer-Songwriter (top prize), 2020 Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project Fellow, 2019 Strathmore Artist in Residence, 2017 & 2018 Berklee Performance Showcase Winner, 2017 Bernard Ebbs Young Songwriter of the Year, two-time Grammy Foundation Young Songwriter Program Artist, and this very EP—her debut release Wild Woman—is currently a finalist in the Independent Music Awards for Best Roots/Country EP.

Garcia earned her swag with a collection of loose, warm indie-folk songs that dip into rock and blues while showcasing her athletic voice and rather quirky style at the mic. It’s music that feels like it was made for busking, with potent punchlines and attention-grabbing vocal swerves and runs (the latter making it somewhat surprising she didn’t get a chair turn when she auditioned for my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Voice a couple of years back).

Wild Woman features five Garcia originals, each showcasing a slightly different aspect of Garcia’s musical identity. “Stuck In Your Head” makes an immediate impression, a catchy, frothy number that decorates a steady acoustic rhythm with an observant and only slightly snarky travelogue of the LA scene. The influences—Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, Shawn Mullins and Jack Johnson, for a few—are apparent from the get-go, and there’s an appealing snap to her performance.

Garcia digs deeper on “Muddy River,” a churning folk-blues that reminds me of Casey Frazier in the way she crafts a foreboding atmosphere out of simple tools (acoustic guitar, organ, and a spare, loping backbeat) and deploys it as a frame for her impassioned vocal. “Jezebel” mines similar musical territory for a monologue about a messy breakup; it’s fervent but feels slightly overcooked in places.

Title track “Wild Woman” slows things down for a bluesy lament with an appealing melodic hook played on a synth emulating an accordion. “Hold Onto My Pride” closes things out with another hard-strummed, rhythmic folk-pop number whose appealing assertiveness would be even stronger if sung straighter, with fewer runs and flourishes. I don’t know if it’s the influence of shows like The Voice, but at times it feels like Garcia is trying too hard, focusing on octave-skipping gymnastics rather than on fully inhabiting the words she’s singing.

That said, Garcia’s abundant talents as a songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist are all over this impressive debut, marking her as an artist to watch. Count me in for whatever comes next.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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