Holler Country Music

Video Premiere: ISMAY – ‘I Called You Up’

June 27, 2023 11:00 am GMT

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Taken from their upcoming LP Desert Pavement, ‘I Called You Up’ is a coming-of-age alt-country classic from the Folk/Americana songwriter ISMAY.

The song captures that moment in your life when you stop letting yourself be defined by the world around you, as you take a stand for yourself and what you believe in.

There’s a moment in your late teens when it feels like you claim your promise. When the adults you grew up around finally see that spark of who you truly are and what you are about to become. It’s the first taste of acknowledgement; when you become aware of your own worth and dignity as a human being by way of the adult world noticing you for who you feel like you’ve always been, but never been seen to be.

Except, sometimes that doesn’t happen, and the adult world you keep waiting to be acknowledged by doesn’t.

‘I Called You Up’ is a song that explores the changing dynamics of a parent-child relationship, as they both navigate the journey of aging. The 25-year-old protagonist reaches out to their busy parent, only to realize the shifting nature of their connection as they grow into adulthood.

“Cos I’m all grown / You’ve got your life outside my own and at 25,” ISMAY sings, claiming their own space in the world. “If I don’t hear from you for a while / I will find a way to unbind cos I am no longer a child".

The song delves into the bittersweet acceptance of finding one's place in the world and embracing self-reliance. They have to accept their new place as an adult, one who unbinds from their parents and relies on themself.

Working with producer Andrew Marlin of Watchhouse, the song has that same effortless magic as early Lucinda Williams or Mary Lou Lord; jangling 90’s alt-country with the kind of modern polish that have made recent records from Janet Simpson and Waxahatchee so captivating.

"This song was fascinating to record for me, because it began as a slow melancholy folky song,” ISMAY explains about how the song came about. “Then Andrew had the idea to add a little riff and change the chords on one line. That adjustment changed the whole song, and it showed Andrew’s brilliance as a producer".

"Out of all the songs on the record, this one had the most influence from Andrew" ISMAY continues, "It takes a really great musician and producer to hold back on making any changes to most of the songwriting, except when it really counts and is needed. I love collaboration like that, where another person can hear a possibility that I can’t and makes the music much better."

‘I Called You Up’ is premiering exclusively at Holler below.

ISMAY is a Folk/Americana music project driven by California-based singer and songwriter Avery Hellman. Their debut album Songs of Sonoma Mountain was released in 2020. Growing up backstage at their grandfather’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, ISMAY was inspired early on by artists such as Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Hazel Dickens.

Following on from the success of their previous single, ‘Stranger in the Barn,’ ISMAY continues to captivate listeners with their unique blend of gorgeous melodies and thought-provoking storytelling.

Acclaimed artists they have opened for include Steve Earle, Watchhouse, Justin Townes Earle, Robert Earl Keen, John Doe and Chuck Prophet.

ISMAY is featured as one of a select group of artists from around the world participating in the Apple TV+ Show My Kind of Country, produced by Kacey Musgraves and Reese Witherspoon.

‘I Called You Up’ is out now. For more information on ISMAY and their upcoming releases, please click here.

Written by Jof Owen
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