In her latest single, ‘One Sided Sea’, Katie Callahan explores the way people in a relationship are perceived. Often, those on the outside misread and misinterpret a situation, making judgements without full knowledge of those involved. In the smart accompanying video, Callahan takes on the role of ‘villain’ Although it seems playful, there’s a powerful message about being true to yourself. Callahan explains the song’s theme: “‘One Sided Sea’ began as a song I’d written and forgotten about, but something in it caught the ear and imagination of Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay), so we dove in, blew the whole thing up, and rebuilt it into what we have now. It’s an anthem for those waiting for an answer, for those whose refusal to live in complacency is interpreted as “too much,” who feel like their words keep crashing back onto the same shore over and over. The video is meant to playfully address the way a person in a relationship can be vilified by making demands or asking for accountability, their urgency mistaken for nagging or “being crazy,” while the other partner is interpreted as strong and silent or noble in their ability to carry on without addressing conflict. The Villain in the video is play-acting her relationship, the way she has put on the costume assigned to her while her partner gets to be The Hero, stoic and unaffected. The persistent image Dan and I worked with was that of a message in a bottle crashing back to shore, the message never received, so I wanted to echo that in the video. In the end, The Villain sheds her costume, acting as her own hero and giving herself permission to be angry, to demand what is best for herself, and reclaim her identity. This video was filmed in my pandemic work space on the third floor of my house and in Spring Lake, NJ with my iPhone. Special thanks to all the tripods.”
The video is an inventive reflection of the song’s theme and lyrical intensity. Most importantly, we see Callahan, and the doll that represents her, take off the label and cast it aside; it’s powerful and liberating. ‘One Sided Sea’ has the feel of an anthem for people seeking truth in their lives and relationships. Lyrically, the song explores power and balance in a relationship: “Well you asked me to come here // You know I hate the cold // The gray waves pounding // At the bitter coast // Why don’t you say something, say something to me,” and she waits in silence for her lover to speak and put on a performance. Rising and falling over a forceful rhythm, Callahan’s clear, pure voice finds a catchy melody. It’s immediately likeable and engaging. The song builds carefully, with changes of pace and tone reflecting the shifting dynamic between two people.
The song is taken from the Baltimore-based singer’s second album, ‘The Water Comes Back’. Her first record, ‘Get it Right’, had taken years to put together and it represented a series of personal challenges, including a failing marriage and depression. The new album covers a range of themes, including female strength and identity and the unravelling of a lifetime of evangelical Christianity, particularly the tension between the joy and community of faith and the pain it can cause. These are ambitious themes, approached with sensitivity. Callahan’s seeks to create music that reflects the changing emotional tides and currents inside us all. She says: “When people hear my songs, I want them to feel seen and I want them to feel brave. Like they don’t have to hide anything from anybody or themselves.” Check it out.
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