INTERCONTINENTAL APPEAL Callery is popular at home and overseas.
Allysen Callery's new EP The Summer Place is the companion to last year's Winter Island; a special-edition double-disc package is available now via the Berlin-based DIY label Woodland Recordings (woodlandrecordings.com), complete with lyrics and a vial of Lupine seeds for planting. A second German label, the vinyl-only imprint JellyFant Schallplatten (jellyfant.com), has issued a limited run combining both EPs on one platter.
I caught up with Callery just prior to her trip to Germany and Switzerland for a 10-date tour to promote the new record, once again hitting the road with renowned English folk singer/songwriter Stephen Burch, known as the Great Park.
"I am extremely lucky to tour with the Great Park. He has a good following and his fans have embraced me, too," said Callery, who made her first overseas trek last year in support of Winter Island.
"I love seeing a wide age range in the crowds, and the venues are true 'listening rooms' where you have everyone's rapt attention."
Callery's first show back Stateside will be a supporting slot for UK folk singer/songwriter Jez Lowe this Sunday at the Blackstone River Theatre. Callery has played with backing bands the Land of Nod and most recently the Night Kitchen but is primarily a solo act now, so the psychedelic backdrop adorning Winter Island and 2010's Hobgoblin's Hat are gone. But Callery still conjures starry-eyed lullabies like no other.
She noted that a few of the seven songs comprising The Summer Place were written prior to Winter Island, but since they exuded "a little warmer" feel they were reserved for the follow-up. Callery's lyrics once again ride an undercurrent of tension on occasion to counteract the uniquely gorgeous delivery and Celtic-laced cooing. On Hobgoblin's Hat, she was "able to explore deeper and darker memories and feelings," Callery told me when we first met three years ago; she followed suit on Winter Island tracks "One-Eyed Cat" and "Favourite Son" (directed at a sexual predator). Callery's characters come to life via stacks of verse-filled notebooks ("When I was younger and full of poetry") and a glass or three of Chianti. But playing the role of the heartbroken victim in need of emotional rescue rarely comes into play; on the Summer standout track "The Huntsman," she sings over an ominous guitar note, "If you be the wolf with the pointed teeth who snarls when he speaks, with fetid breath/Will I be the bird who pecks out your eyes and flies?"
The minimal surroundings of The Summer Place allow Callery's vocals and nimble guitar-picking skills (self-taught on her father's Martin Classical at age 14, shortly after his passing) to shine throughout. There's a little Mazzy Star tucked into her delivery on "Honeymoon" when she laments, "The sun hid its pretty face away, and the sky was cold and gray." On "See the Sea," she casually fires off the line, "My pretty dream is very real, even if you are just a passing thing," and eventually follows with "when I kiss you, let it be." Callery's poetry sparkles with the simplest of images; in "Sakonnet," she notes "air infused with wine and the grapes set as jewels upon the vine." And on "Mockingbird & Whippoorwill": "I've a walking stick, I've a cross of gold, and a winding road up a mountainside/So many stars, they filled my eyes, so many stars they filled my mind."