Today (27th Jan) sees the launch of Call Me Unique’s latest EP, Urban Gypsy.
Originally scheduled for a pre Christmas release, the 7 track EP had to take its place behind a punishing schedule – pushing its final freedom back until the New Year. Available via free download (more info on Call Me Unique’s website) Urban Gypsy will get its first live outing at a special free party at The Yardbird tonight – joined by a healthy line up of support. Click here to read our Preview.
One problem with Call Me Unique is her success, or rather the success of her material to date and the expectation it creates. She is, as quite clearly stated, unique. And whilst that won’t guarantee you’ll like her approach; the controlled growl to lark song voice or heart on the sleeve lyrics, but those that do can get quite nutty about it. Like something rare in a cage, you want to own it. Or part of it at least. Your part of it.
Urban Gypsy is a step away from the raw six string acoustic verse you’ll have seen Unique perform on YouTube posts and MPEGS. ‘The Wife’ is not on it. But in its place is a perfectly pitched production from the 33 Beats founder and producer, Professor F. Bravely stripped back, simple, mature, elegant, and with a constant respect for the material, the singer’s range and an ever present melody.
‘Bombs & Wars’ uses a dark sonar to underpin its message, challenging the confused violence of the world’s powerful and scared (watch out for the additional verse from MaliK MD7) . ‘Here’ carries Unique’s whispered plea with a soft backline and educated clarity, allowing every nuance in her vocals to take the right place at the right time. A simple repeated clap gives ‘Showlow’ a perfectly restrained hook, although the 80’s synth sometimes edges the song to a distracting boarder; whilst the EPs title track survives a risky cacophony of with a solid rhythm and well paced verse. The whole ensemble carries an air of melancholy and summer; it makes me think of tired journeys, love and something soft on my back.
But the shining star is ‘Stranger’, a beautiful lament to an unidentified love – supported by a simple piano riff and the dutifully, deftly, stripped back snare and kick drum that pepper this EP. Plus the subtle guitar makes a welcome return to the front.
Throughout ‘Stranger’ Call Me Unique feels alone, strong but isolated, and you can’t help but wonder who the recipient of her woefully honest plea is. I joked recently that Call Me Unique is ‘now officially the busiest woman in Birmingham’ after an excitedly long answer to my obvious question and small talk. But 2013, it seems, was an intense year for the singer/songwriter – acting only as a precursor to busier schedule in 2014. And whilst Unique explains “…trials and tribulations makes the boy the man he need to be”, I question if the song’s subject is so easily defined by gender. Is it a man, is it a crowd, is it the road? All we know is “I’m the stranger… and I try to make you smile, if that’s OK.”
Urban Gypsy is an excellent EP. Call Me Unique has been worth attention for a few years, with her on street confidence, controlled vocals – confidently jumping from Soul to scat, and professional approach to graft; but Urban Gypsy is something new.
The pairing with Professor F is an absolute powerhouse, bringing a flavor to her material that SCREAMS ALBUM and of a producer’s understanding to their subject and craft. I am constantly reminded of Reachin’ or Baduizm – and whilst no comparison is fair, to be lined up against those debuts means you’re doing something very right in my book.
The only criticism I have about Urban Gypsy EP, and it’s an important one, is that it’s free. Call Me Unique works hard, and artists producing content of this quality deserve to get paid. Otherwise they will inevitably have to stop, and when that happens we all lose.
Urban Gypsy EP is available for free download from Monday 27th January. For more information visit http://callmeunique.co.uk
Urban Gypsy EP Launch Party is being held at The Yardbird tonight / Monday 27th. Read our Preview for further details – click here