Susan Calloway - Time for This
One should be forgiven for wondering why Susan Calloway isn’t commanding packed houses in major venues already. Her songwriting talents merge with performing and vocal skills to serve up one of year’s most substantial pop efforts. “Time for This” is a piano ballad, of sorts, but there’s never a second when Calloway’s talents do anything less than make emotional and moving demands of the listener. This is far from pandering with some commercial pap but, instead, plays like it is ripped from the pages of her personal life. The sense of high stakes in this performance cannot be underestimated. Her previous success with singles like “Answers”, her musical contribution to the Final Fantasy video game franchise, gave notice she is a major new talent, but “Time for This” proves she’s no shooting star with limited upside. The sky is the proverbial limit for what this formidable artist can accomplish.
Her producer/co-writer Gerard Smerek has worked with Calloway in the past and has a clear vision for how to present her voice alongside ideal musical settings. It doesn’t get much more ideal than the arrangement for “Time for This”. The warm and flowing piano lines create numerous melodic high points and there’s only a near ambient smattering of synth color swelling from the background. The addition has a string-like quality that lends some extra weight to the competition without ever becoming too obtrusive. The running time is ideal and never overreaches – instead, this is a compressed little gem that, nevertheless, always provides ample space for both the vocals and glittering piano runs room to breathe and roam. The beginning and ending are both particularly evocative and show just the right amount of musical imagination without ever coming off too obvious. The production balance between the vocals and piano work is perfect – they work together perfectly and the individual parts come together for form a greater whole.
Calloway’s voice milks every possible drop of theatricality from the lyrics, but the writing is never presented in such a way that it would afford singers an opportunity to be overwrought or melodramatic. This is an infinitely sensible song that never goes in for cheap dramatics and speaks about the song’s particular experience with plain-spoken language. Her phrasing has a nicely artistic touch without ever cheapening the emotional tenor of the songwriting. She builds her vocal step for step with the accompanying piano and the rough gravitas she’s capable of bringing to particular moments makes this an even more impactful performance. This is one of the year’s pop masterpieces in miniature and Susan Calloway’s performance propels this robust song even higher into the stratosphere. “Time for This” seizes upon emotions we’ve all experienced and reaches out for the audience with unabashed honesty that will stir any heart. It’s another rousing artistic success for this great performer and deservedly elevates her professional profile to a place it hasn’t yet occupied.