Spanning into the musical landscape of deep Americana, Newcastle singer-songwriter Callum Pitt’s debut album In The Balance, does two things simultaneously; one, it creates the type of raw and introspective art commonly linked to the works of Elliott Smith and Sufjan Stevens, and two it provides an interesting insight into the close relationship between North America’s Americana sound, and Northumberland’s folk tradition.
Centered in an indie/folk sound, but layered with huge touches of orchestral and vocal high-art, In the Balance is an exploration of various styles of musicality that create ‘emotional’ responses. And that’s emotional in both style and in substance.
“I suppose I started this album quite a while ago” reflects Pitt “and since then it’s gone through various forms in terms of its musical setting and the musical choices I made, like what vocal range to use or what production to use. That said though, I’d say that the focus of the songs has always remained the same and focused on how I interact with the world, and the world interacts with me”.
Focused on topics such as depression, anxiety, and the slow decaying of our political structure, In the Balance takes deeply emotive topics and uses them to reflect Pitt’s truth in how he feels about some of the bigger questions of life, and how they affect him (“I wrote most of the album in my bedroom, slowly building up ideas with my guitar and keyboard and reflecting on a few key incidents in my life and on what was going on around me.”).
Perhaps more effecting than the narrative, it’s Pitt’s stunning vocals that best capture his emotional response to his situation and his ability to use his voice as an emoting instrument is deeply effecting in places.
Having laid out a deliberate narrative for the album (“there are some ideas for other styles of songs and lyrics, but I didn’t want to explore anything that sat outside of the sound and the story I wanted to tell with this album”), In the Balance was completed with the support of long-time producer John Martindale (“John’s a pleasure to work with and really understands what I’m trying to achieve”), with the deliberate intent of creating one complete piece of art.
Album standouts “Black Holes in the Sky” and “Crow” showcase Pitt’s ability to build deeply unsettling and emotional sounds; balancing them with lush vocals and layers on layers of rich folk/Americana soundscapes. This is a remarkable debut for a songwriter who has already won the Alan Hull Award for songwriters (in 2019), and is keen to consider the next chapter of his songwriting development (“I’m really excited at exploring some of the ideas and sounds I put to one side, and also starting from scratch in other places”).
Some local shows and a chance to play and promote the album come in the short term (“I’m working on the live shows and how we can bring the songs to life in a live setting”) but the fact that there’s already an eye on what comes next is something to be very excited about.