Her Name Is Calla - Long Grass EP
Her Name Is Calla is a six (occasionally seven) piece band, with members spread across Leicester, Leeds and York. They have released one mini-album to date, The Heritage, and have a full-length debut, apparently entitled The Quiet Lamb, for later this year. None of the players are called ‘Calla’, though the name is, according to some brief and cheap research in the name of this article, originally Greek, meaning ‘beautiful’.
And beauty is certainly a condition to which this E.P. aspires - with some success. The band also has a stated desire to “craft songs and music that have a heart [...] not always the one people are used to [...] the symbol of love and hope but [...] somehow more personal”. These three tracks have been recorded acoustically, specifically using tools ubiquitous to folk: banjo, mandolin, violin – but played with an intensity that seems to belie any debt to the current folk scene, instead staking out territory that somehow recalls the final Talk Talk album, albeit as if that material had been approached by folkies.
Track one, the title song, opens with gentle piano and banjo, spartan notes drifting downswamp with a melancholy Huck Finn. The lyrics, transmitted in a Thom Yorke voice, seem to relate a fairytale-ish narrator lost in the titular lawns, until brushed cymbals give way to a more sweeping instrumentation, forcing use of that ultra-cliché ‘cinematic’. ‘A Sleeper’ has a hugely appealing pagans-in-a-field kind of intimacy, with uplifting (happily short of conventionally ‘upbeat’) harmonised vocals, prominent mandolin (always a welcome noise) and more sweeping cymbals. ‘The White And The Skin’ is an intense climax, and genuinely resembles ‘Nocturnal Me’ by Echo And The Bunnymen at points, with melodramatic mandolin to the fore, before abruptly switching into a string-laden coda that is 'Curtains'-era Tindersticks fronted by him out of Muse.
The numerous comparisons used here should not serve to convince you that Her Name Is Calla are in any way damaged by these echoes: they certainly hit their targets, that’s for sure, and the variety of instrumentation lifts them far beyond most others new folk acts. Surely an intensely beautiful live experience.