By Helen Jerome
For teen sensation Callista Clark, the only way is up.
If Callista Clark seems too complicated, as her song says, it’s 'cause she is. An old soul who hails from Zebulon, Georgia, yet somehow also a teenage sensation, the 18-year-old has managed to attract the cream of Nashville’s songwriting crop to co-write across 10 songs on this debut album, with ace producer Nathan Chapman adding punch, pulse and polish.
Loads of potential singles jump out across the record, from the acoustic flavours of ‘Worst Guy Ever’ to the bolder, deliberately uplifting ‘Brave Girl’ – written when she was only 15 herself – providing something for existing fans and new followers alike. The latter, signature song encourages her listeners to “Say what you wanna say, say it like you mean it / You’re gonna be okay even if you don’t believe it.”
There’s a soulful core and delightfully snappy word-smithery running across all the tracks, giving freshness to eternal concerns like break-ups (‘Heartbreak Song’ and ‘Gave It Back Broken’) and moving on, (‘Don’t Need It Anymore’ and ‘Sad’). The album is neatly bookended with two key statement songs, ‘It’s ‘Cause I Am’ up top and the hook-laden title track ‘Real To Me’ rounding things off.
Real to Me: The Way I Feel definitely gains this the Holler seal of approval. Buoyed up by characteristically powerful vocals, memorable songs and the rare knack of knowing how to relate to and empower her fellow teens, for Callista Clark, the only way is up.
Real to Me: The Way I Feel is out on Friday 14th October via Big Machine. You can purchase the record from one of Holler's selected partners below: