Music Review: ‘Something Fierce’ by Marian Call

Ever since Dragon*Con earlier this month, I’ve been listening to Marian Call’s Something Fierce CD, which I purchased from the artist herself right after the Parsec Awards ceremony. I first heard her music at the 2010 Parsec Awards, and I eventually bought a couple of her songs from iTunes, including I’ll Still Be a Geek After Nobody Thinks It’s Chic (The Nerd Anthem), which includes a line that I wish I’d written:

I have been a nerd since my first five-syllable word

Brilliance. If you get the chance to hear her perform live, you may get the impression that she does primarily humorous songs (her karaoke song is hysterical.) As I’ve listened to Something Fierce, what has struck me is that these are (for the most part) serious songs, though some are light-hearted. Even some of the light-hearted songs pack some bite:

Well I had a good time sweetheart, that’s for sure
Well I wanna thank you for all your trouble
But if you lose my number now I won’t complain
‘Cause you’re my avocado baby — only only good for one day
‘Cause you’re my sushi baby — only only good for one day

Or this:

Oh, I wish I were a real Alaskan girl
Because I hear that they kick ass
Oh, it’s easy to see why a local woman’s in demand
The guys have to queue up for years to hold your hand
I’d find me some big burly bush pilot boy
I would hook and reel him in and fiancé him
But if he ever double-crossed me or tried to do me wrong
I wouldn’t hardly hesitate to skin, gut, and filet him

Contrast that with the picture she paints to the driving beat in  Temporal Dominoes:

He likes the smell of the incense / she likes her Indian food
The sweltering subway so intense / not a gesture is left unpursued
‘Cause they’re not in the mood to miss miracles
Culling their half-baked assumptions / paradigms toppling untried
Demolishing decades-old hunches / with their eyes all unraveled and wide
At the top of the tide / and nowhere to hide

One of the sweeter songs is Highway Five. Marian Call is from Alaska, and this is her ode to the Pacific Coast Highway:

This is my coast, this is my home, from San Diego up to Nome
Haven’t seen it all yet but I will
And I want to memorize it, every inch, want to remember where I’ve been
I bless these waves, I bless this wind, I bless this grace and all my sins

I love the “I’m okay the way I am” spirit behind Whistle While You Wait:

When it’s the first time you could get to West Hollywood and you’re slathered in sunscreen
And you drive really slow, so you know that they know that you’re another Joe with a dream
And you’re wearing your old secondhand blue jeans
And you keep turning your head at limousines
And everybody else looks so damn pretty
And you’re feelin’ extra grungy and extra indie
Oh it takes a little effort to hold your head up straight
To dress just like you want to, to whistle while you wait
It takes a little effort to not avert your eyes
To trust that you belong there — it might just be yourself that you surprise

The album opens with the happy vibe of Good Morning Moon:

Good morning Moon, love, how you doin’?
I’ve got business with you today
Good evening, Sun, I’ll see you soon
I wake on my own terms lately
Who’s to say we’re upside-down
Who’s to say we’re falling if we miss the ground
Who’s to say we’re going nowhere
If we like spinning ’round and ’round?

Musically, her vocals remind me a lot of Joni Mitchell circa Court & Spark. The arrangements are tight and the production is never over the top. I recommend this CD to anyone looking for intelligent songwriting and creative melodies. If you get the chance, check out her live act (her tour schedule is on her home page.) I saw her twice this year at Dragon*Con — at the Atlanta Skeptics party and again at the Parsec Awards. She brings humor and energy to her performances, at which she plays somewhat unusual percussion instruments (manual typewriter and rain stick.) I hope she makes the trip east to Dragon*Con every year.

Any other Marian Call fans out there? Chime in in the comments.

Leave a Comment

This entry was posted in General and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Music Review: ‘Something Fierce’ by Marian Call

  1. Mr Taz says:

    Saw the artist at a tiny gig in Trowbridge, Wiltshire (UK… where the history is). Great sound, nerdy style (in a good way) and engaging personality. Top Stuff.

  2. Dan W says:

    I don’t know another artist with near this affinity for fusing things pigeonhole-highbrow, nerd inclusive, jazz-ingrained and sultry. This release is arresting in its polished finish that still fulfills an innate need for solidly representing her vibrant live shows.

  3. YourD says:

    In the past four weeks I have had the pleasure of seeing her play quite often. Every show brought new things alongside the old, giving every separate gig its very own identity. Here’s hoping she’ll return sooner rather than later – just not after taking a deserved holiday.

  4. Brendan says:

    I have loved seeing her sing live on several opportunities. Her songs speak to life and all of it’s foibles. The newest release has been as great ass all of her past ones.

  5. Owen says:

    I first saw her at a lesbian sports bar in northern Illinois thanks to a blog post about her. I really did not know what she would be like beforehand.

    She was absolutely wonderful! The words. The sounds. I was awed beyond ability to speak.

    I bought Vanilla and a download of her earlier work and have never regretted it. I have seen her live in a variety of venues, and every show has been a gift of beauty and happiness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *