After establishing himself as an active voice in indie-folk over the last six years, singer-songwriter Callum Pitt is stepping things up with his much anticipated debut LP, ‘In The Balance’. Not just dipping his toes into new sonic arenas – alt-rock leanings and an orchestral tinge embellish his artistry into something truly grand – the Newcastle-based artist is also fleshing out an ambitious vision for the first time, taking advantage of an expanded run time to establish a cohesive and fulfilled narrative.
The album is, in his own words, “a collection of songs about trying to find meaning in modern life, but it also deals with the issues that you encounter when struggling to do so. It’s about seeking those larger connections, thinking about things greater than our Earthly lives but also the very human mental health issues that I’ve grappled with myself; they can make day-to-day life seem meaningless if you let them.”
Perhaps uniquely placed to tackle those demons in himself and others, Pitt’s work in occupational therapy instilled a desire to keep that inner light burning amongst the chaos we all inevitably experience. “I love miserable songs normally, but there was a point where I had to pause listening because they were putting me down a bit too much,” he laughs. “I find that those facing problems tend to have the most humorous outlook on them, though. The themes of these songs have some brutal truths in them, but I wanted to present it in a way that would offer some joy.”
Collaboration has been the key to unlocking that ever-present warmth which radiates from each note of ‘In The Balance’, as Callum dove into co-writing sessions for the first time; a sense of unison permeates the record as friends like Jodie Nicholson, Grace Gillespie and Imogen Chime in to reinvigorate his craft. “I would hope there are pockets of community everywhere, but I do find that the North East often feels like it’s us against the world,” he reflects on the tightknit scene around him. “People support each other here, help out where they can and share the creativity around. It’s a really generous setting to live in.”
With that positivity being noted, it was precarious circumstances in Callum’s own life that created the rocky foundations from which these great heights can be aspired to. With his family being hit by a fire truck and a close friend almost dying from an acid overdose – and yet all involved being absolutely fine – the musician began to contemplate the unpredictable nature of daily existence. “I was already looking for that bigger connection and deeper meaning, and it made me consider the influence of fate,” he admits. “Those two small but significant events definitely sparked curiosity towards some deeper meaning within me.”
An appreciation for the happiness he does possess became evident, and the fruits of this gratitude radiate from the resulting music: ‘Fraction Of A Second’ tells of the difference any moment can make; ‘I Feel A God And Devil In This Room’ juxtaposes the good or evil nature we can choose to display at any time; ‘More Than This’ beautifully expresses the need to cherish what you’ve got.
“It’s important to be grateful for what you’ve got, but that’s never simple to do,” Callum shares. “You see the same things all the time no matter what life you live, and it’s easy to lose perspective and value of the good things around you. The people around you in particular are a privilege to focus on.”
As his own voice is matched by elegant harmonies, string orchestras, brass undertones and even the occasional guitar solo, it’s clear that ‘In The Balance’ is not a record Callum Pitt could’ve made in isolation – and why should he? Grabbing onto those he holds dear and not letting go, using them to better himself and producing the most regenerative art of his life in the process, there’s certainly more to this Geordie musician than meets the eye. “Life feels empty if you’re not finding time to explore your passions,” he remarks after explaining that improving his client’s wellbeing in therapy translates remarkably easily to building up hope with his tunes. “It’s important to search for that hope as much as possible.”
Words: Finlay Holden