Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Martin Callingham - Tonight, We All Swim Free

Martin Callingham
Martin Callingham launched his debut solo album, Tonight, We All Swim Free, on the 19th February 2015 in the bowels of the Betsey Trotwood, London. We were crammed into this vaulted underworld, rubbing knees with the full Callingham gamut of Tom Van Eker (guitars, vocals), Anna Kissell (violin, vocals), Anna Strudwick (cello),  Philip Collings (drums) and Andy Smith (bass).

Joyce the Librarian's
Blue Plaque
Released just days before on Folkwit Records, choice cuts have already been played on the Radio 6 (Gideon Coe, Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson) and BBC Bristol. Despite making a Blue Plaque for Callingham as his previous incarnation, Joyce the Librarian, this was a first chance to pen his hirsute mug in the sketchbook.

Anna Kissell - Violin/vocals
A first time for Callingham to step out of his alter ego's shoes too. “It feels odd to put this out under my own name. Partly because it’s comfortable to separate your musical self from other aspects of life; it feels sort of like coming out in some way. But also because there have been more people involved in the making of this album than last time around. Some who I’ve played with for a few years now, but also great talents like Gareth Bonello (The Gentle Good) and Anne Kissell who I’ve met since the release of the Joyce the Librarian record.”

Philip Collings - Drums
The six strong Martin Callingham experience started with the title track but it wasn't until the 3rd tune Knots that we really started to swim free. It was a fine balance between instruments, each emerging from the compositions with clarity and warmth. It's unusual to notice the drums for their delicate touch but Phil Collings' brush work caught the ear as much as his hair did the eye. Callingham's vocal delivery was a minimal one, barely spoken. You lean close and are a nipped by meaning of his graceful words.

Anna Strudwick - Cello
 The sound of Folding works against its name, instead of being reduced again and again to the size of a postage stamp the song oozed out into the audience. It was an overflowing vessel of a tune, its viscosity never dripping, just endlessly consuming the ground beneath our feet in an endless rising Plimsoll line.

Tom Van Eker - Guitar/Vocals
Water was a recurring motif, both in sensation and subject matter, Tide Returns didn't wash with rolling waves but picked out the shiny pebbles after the water had receeded. Again it was the clarity of the instrumentation that made you think of tiny pin pricks of reflected moon as they twinkled on glossy dark stones. It was the sharpness of those small round moons that kept with us, it was the spark that exists in a truly living eye.

Andy Smith - Bass
The album Tonight, We All Swim Free (Folkwit Records) is available from Amazon and other outlets I'm sure. Keep up to date with Martin activities at


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