Callers: Fortune
Western Vinyl

Though Callers wisely adds muscle to Fortune's sound by including the drumming of Don Godwin and Gus Martin on the majority of its eleven songs, the band's sound is still very much predicated on the haunted vocalizing of Sara Lucas and the simpatico guitar work of Ryan Seaton. On their debut release, the duo mixes it up stylistically and demonstrates a commanding range in presenting material that extends from medieval folk songs and wistful balladry to slow-burning blues settings.

Lucas's voice is rougher than your typical female singer's, a voice seemingly bruised by experience and to which the word “girlish” would never apply. It's the kind of singing one might hear emanating from the dimly lit stage of a smoky bar. She's no Carla Bozulich, however (although the grungy “The Upper Lands” finds her at least halfway there); though her singing suggests she's been around the block a few hundred times, she still politely reins in her delivery on songs like “Meet Between.” A brief intro “Valerie” presents the Callers' sound in its purest form by limiting the palette to her voice and Seaton's guitar and background vocal, after which Martin's drumming gives the bluesy “More Than Right” some welcome heft that nicely complements Seaton's raw attack.

Defying expectations, the material is often more a showcase for his deft guitar playing than her singing. When the duo become troubadours in the folk traditional “Rone,” for example, she sticks closely to the song's melody while he layers acoustic and electric guitars into a weave that's both lyrical and lovely. The lulling folk setting “O Family” likewise reveals the ease with which he navigates intricate passages while the ballad “Debris” offers a vehicle for delicate electric guitar shadings.

October 2008