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Moira Smiley

The Call - Single (2020)

4.0

Review By Dan Fister

December 24, 2020

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Composer-performer Moira Smiley and her vocal quintet offer a meditative plea for humanity with their original track, The Call. This song is a call to action, if you will, for the listener to foster peace and understanding rather than division and strife. No explicit cause is named or detailed, but one might hazard a guess based on subtext and our current climate. Though most political songs exude passion and fiery rhetoric, writer and bass performer on the track Gregory Fletcher instead channels a placid lake, one where the water moves circularly in 7/8 time over a near-constant drone and dreamy, spiritual lyrics.

The asymmetrical tenor motive that might symbolize the titular call refuses to settle in musical mode; it is as restless as the narrators who admonish humanity's strife and division. And, like any earworm or anxious thought, you cannot unhear it for hours after it first appears in your head. Short snippets of abstract vocal harmony sneak in between phrases like small bursts of energy that propel the listener forward on the lake to the next stanza. The Call never reaches an apex and ends its musical cycle suddenly before the harmonic progression can resolve. Like the rest of the track, we might hear this choice as intentional, a nod toward the lyrics' unfinished struggle or perhaps the performers passing the torch on to the listener to help heal humanity with them.

These musical features stand out from and at times overwhelm the solo melody. I found myself attending to whether the enigmatic motive or drone would change, which speaks more to the song's lack of a distinct message than an error in musical composition. Political songs do not need to be bombastic or fervent to be effective; but, in order to inspire listeners to seek change, they should probably know by the end of the song what the cause is. Or are we each supposed to find our own cause? After listening to The Call several times, I'm left spellbound but unsure of what, if any, impression it leaves.

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