She's also the subject of a full-page interview profile in Pitchfork Media that tells her story from being born in NYC to pioneering unconventional cello techniques to performing Bach and trad jazz in New Orleans to joining the Carolina Chocolate Drops to her discovery of Haitian folk music and the creation of 'Vari-Colored Songs.'
Here's what we're reading:
"Her magnificently transparent music holds tidings of family, memory, solitude and the inexorability of time: weighty thoughts handled with the lightest touch imaginable."
- Jon Pareles, New York Times, February 14, 2014
"Her playing--on cello, tenor banjo and guitar--suggests a perpetual spring, giving these songs about losing innocence and finding death a vibrancy that fits their folk music function. Her voice is a velvety purr that's both wise and bright, not unlike the surreal sophistication of Jolie Holland's best work."
Grayson Currin, Pitchfork Media, February 7, 2014
"Leyla McCalla redefines the cello… Stunning... [a] rich mix of sounds,.. McCalla earns the literary company with her dark-toned songs. Her unusual cello style also matches the poetry in terms of sheer invention."
- Jim Farber, New York Daily News, February 7, 2014
- Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post, January 30, 2014
"A beguiling album in the way it pulls the listener in distinct directions. At once unvarnished and sparse, like field recordings in high definition, it’s also rich with the organic suppleness."
- James Reed, The Boston Globe, February 1, 2014
"Ambitious, deep, and gorgeous."
- David Kunian, Offbeat Magazine, January, 2014
"Impressive… a fully realized and nuanced gem."
- Steve Leggett, All Music Guide
- Charlie Heller, New York Post, February 7, 2014
- Mark Zaretsky, New Haven Register, February 13, 2014
"Delightful… hypnotic and hybrid, with exotic echoes of an older world made fresh by the thoughtful passion of McCalla's interpretation."
- Alison Fensterstock, New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 5, 2014
"What a voice, more Billie Holiday than anything, flourishing in such bare surroundings and bringing the words, whether joyous or dark, to life... As arranger, musician and vocalist she’s a remarkable talent, and this debut is assured and a harbinger of a towering career."
- Chris Nickson, Sing Out!, December 31, 2013