The Baltimore group Outcalls has prepped a gently beseeching creation which was released on Valentines Day! It’s called “Stay” and it seeps into your brain with unassuming steps. But it gets its hooks in, making you want to remain… on repeat. The Valentine’s Day complaint is laden with genuine concern and puts to work a wide range of tools in service of their message. That includes the 80s ballad-style pre-chorus build-up, hints of Chaka Khan female empowerment and even reminders of the b-sides on Daft Punk’s latest album, informed by post-disco reveries.
Here Britt Olsen-Ecker and Melissa Wimbish, with Peabody Conservatory cred under their belt, drop an almost-infectious “Are You Gonna Stay” chorus that is simple, mellow and pleasant. And the fact I get it reminds me I’m getting older. There’s no raucous edge to it. It’s just honest and pleading. I love how the keyboard sounds are varied. You have the Rhodes-style warmth mixed with almost chime-tinged indie-friendly arpeggios towards the end.
We receive this gift into the universe hot on the heels of the group snagging the top spot in 89.7 WTMD’s year-end listeners’ poll for their last track, “Keep Falling Over.” WTMD is an “adult album alternative” station, which does seem like the appropriate spot for the genre sung into by Olsen-Ecker and Wimbish. “Keep Falling Over” will also be featured on Maryland Public Television, the day after Valentine’s Day.
“Stay” by Outcalls is a song that makes you wonder about a parallel existence of dandelion Saturdays, picnics among blades of the greenest grass and efforts to convince a not-totally-disapproving-but-still-reticent father figure of your intentions with his offspring. This is a song I feel could fit on a walkman cassette mixtape of one of Napoleon Dynamite’s classmates. I guess that's just what happens when you put the Super City guitarist Dan Ryan, Soul Cannon drummer Charles Wilson and bassist Kevin Powe Jr. together under the guidance of mixer Steve Wright (Wrightway Studios).
“Stay” doesn’t attack with precision chemical effectiveness, but manages to maintain interest with steady progressions, right until the final bars.
Listen to "Stay" here and learn more about Outcalls in our interview below.
What’s the significance of releasing your song “Stay” on February 14th, Valentine's Day?
You mean why release a song on the "Hallmark holiday" that people love to hate? February the 14th holds a special place in our otherwise barren, cold hearts because the first business we started together was a singing valentine troupe: The Valentonez.
"Chocolates melt, flowers die, but The Valentonez will get you laid" was our motto. We delivered singing Valentines all over Baltimore to unsuspecting victims of love ... embarrassing them at work, on their doorstep, or at their local pub. The Valentonez were such a hit that we had to extend to three days! We shared in so many people's special moments and only saw one person get dumped, but that was totally NOT our fault.
Essentially, Valentine's Day is where it all started for us as business partners. It will always be a day that reminds us of how far we have come in the industry as musicians, and how much we have been through as friends. Releasing our new single "Stay" is symbolic for us. It sweetens an already special day and increases the likelihood for tears by about 70 percent.
Why was it important for you to write about this topic?
Didn't seem like a choice. It was motivated by bitter tears.
Do you see the song more as an ultimatum or a petition?
A little bit of both, but probably neither. The song is triggered by a memory of a relationship that is already over. The question being asked over and over, "Are you gonna stay?" has already been answered. This moment is just the pathetic hope that only goes away with lots of time and crying. Also, when your pillow is soaked in tears, sometimes the only way to dry it is with the breath of a repeated question.
What was the recording process like for "Stay"?
Like that scene in "Bohemian Rhapsody" when they're recording "Bohemian Rhapsody" except with us instead of Queen. And with bagels.
Have you had a chance to perform it yet? If so, what has the response been like?
Audiences love "Stay" and often refer to it as "The Birthday Song." It's always fun to listen for reactions after we deliver the first line of text: "Remember when you forgot my birthday? That should have been the end of our story." There are always noticeable guffaws or one of those really long "daaaaaaaaaammmmn"s like you used to hear in middle school.
We can't tell if people are more impressed with the fact that "story" can rhyme with "birthday" when you try hard enough, or if perhaps someone forgot their birthday once too and they've been waiting their whole lives for this moment to hear a song that makes them feel seen. It makes us feel great because we know we're not the only forgettable people in the room.
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