Olivia Rubini needed time. Time to reflect and learn exactly “how horrible a past significant other” was. With a song called “Never Call Me, But Call Me,” the Delaware pop songwriter employs plush production and lyrical sophistication to address her pain. Her vocal inflection is one of jest, further allowing herself to discover even deeper emotional layers in the performance.
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“I wanted the lyrics to be sophisticated and mature enough where it takes a few listens to fully understand the subtle digs, while being youthful and relatable,” Rubini tells American Songwriter. “The more you listen, the more you can uncover about the story and how it plays a significant role in the storyline of the entire record.”
“I won’t pick up but call my phone / I would rather be here alone,” she sings. “I know I shouldn’t say this / I know I shouldn’t, no / Never call me, but call me.”
Rubini’s playfulness is contagious, and she roots the very raw emotions in ongoing “healing and finally getting over someone, even if they still roam in the back of your mind,” she explains. In three minutes, she reclaims the narrative and uncovers a sense of empowerment in the process of writing and recording the track. “You don’t always have to pick up the phone when they call you. It allows the listener to have a laugh about a bad situation, sing their heart out, and confront a deeper issue with a fun, jovial attitude.”
“Never Call Me, But Call Me,” co-written with Andrew Price and Richard Rubini, translates a sharp “vulnerability and timelessness” right to the listener, as if they’ve been invited to the break-up afterparty with cocktails. “You used to be my baby / Now you’re just someone I know,” she sings over a slicked-back melody.
The sweeping mid-tempo is ripped from Rubini’s new album, Silhouettes, recorded at a local studio called Studio 825, located in Wilmington, Delaware. With an ongoing pandemic, Rubini found herself with much more time to write and record than she otherwise would have. “I really wanted to go back to my root musical inspirations and utilize real musicians to give a lush, timeless feeling,” she says, citing such influences as Harry Styles, Rosalía, and John Mayer, as well as old school favorites like The Highwaymen and Hall & Oates.
A Wilmington native, Rubini grew up in an extremely musical household where she “learned to appreciate all genres, the value of great performance, and transcendent music,” she offers.
What is most evident across her 10-track project is the honesty, shining a spotlight on the kind of emotional currency that is so often surface-level in pop music. “I feel like all my real emotions come to the forefront of my mind in the early hours of the morning when I have no distractions. I usually write lyrics hand-in-hand with my melodies and arrangements,” she says of her typical songwriting process.
“So, once I have a small start to a song, it usually takes off somewhat quickly. I think I enjoy my alone time since it allows me to do some deeper self-reflection and emotional digging, which is why I often write when no one else can make me feel self-conscious or restricted in my vulnerability.”
Photo by Vince Cirino