Brian Callihan | Brian Callihan | (independent)
Three and a half out of Five Stars
Brian Callihan knew what he wanted early on, and that was indeed evident when he made the fateful decision to move to Nashville from his home in south Georgia at the young age of 21 with the intent on becoming an artist. That didn’t transpire immediately, but he did manage to work his way into several songwriting circles, make a name and get his work recorded by any number of independent artists.
“I came to town with a handful of songs that I had already written,” Callihan says in hindsight. “I was invited to sign with [music licensing organization] SESAC, and they started setting me up with meetings and introducing me to other songwriters in town….It allowed me to be around a lot of different types of music and really hone in on what was for me and what wasn’t. Diversity is great when it comes to being creative.”
Now, with his eponymous debut album, Callihan finds a firm fit within today’s contemporary country confines. The ten songs have him firmly entrenched in a well-established template, one that veers from tears -in-your-beer ballads like “Same Thing She Told Me” “Proud” and “Fallin’ For Her Angels” (which American Songwriter is pleased to preview exclusively below), to songs that provide a good example of barroom bravado, such as “Last a Lifetime” and “All a Man Needs.” Between the sadness and celebration, he shares a salute to a hardworking family man (“I See Ghosts”) and the good old boys he grew up with for whom honesty and integrity are of prime importance (“Hometown Boys”).
“I knew I always wanted to release an album of my own and felt that 2020 might as well be the year to do it,” Callihan explains. “I have written a big collection of songs that I have always been a fan of myself, so it felt good to finally record and release those songs on my debut record.”
Callihan claims that he was first inspired to start making music early on. “I started writing songs at the age of 12,” Callihan says. “The very first time I heard Keith Whitley sing, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. Whitley had a very distinct way of delivering his lyrics with his vocals that I instantly connected with. A lot of my inspiration comes from him, but I credit many of the country artists from the 1990’s as well…artists such as George Strait, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Randy Travis, Joe Diffie and Tracy Lawrence.”
Callihan’s confidence is clearly evident as a result. He opted to self-produce his debut working alongside the album’s engineers, while the fact that he’s garnered over 20,000 likes on Facebook and received 50,000 streams for the album’s first single, “Broke It Down” suggests that his self assured attitude is well justified.
“I’ve learned a lot over the years by being in the studio with hit songwriters and hit producers,” he reflects. “As a result, I’ve been able to pick up things along the way. I knew how I wanted the album to sound, so being able to co-produce allowed me to control that.”
While his new album allows Callihan to explore his performing possibilities, he says he’s not going to forfeit his songwriting endeavors. “I love the entire process,” he insists. “Sometimes a song that you write might not be something that you would personally consider recording, but it could be a great fit for another artist. I’m currently writing with a few signed label acts in town and fingers crossed they cut something we write.”
As far as the current country scene is concerned, Callihan says he’s absolutely openminded. “I think there is room for it all,” he reckons. “For me personally, it comes down to the song and the lyrics. To others it may come down to how it sounds in their truck. It’s all personal preference at the end of the day.”