Zach Callison is a spectacular singer who comes all the way from Los Angeles. I was introduced to his music earlier this year, from that moment I could tell Zach had something extremely special. If you’re not familiar with his musical work, Callison is also known for his work as the voice of “Steven” on Cartoon Network’s hit show Steven Universe, his on camera acting as villain Chuck for Amazon Studios’ Just Add Magic plus he’s made guest appearances on ABC’s The Goldbergs and CBS’s NCIS: Los Angeles.
Zach made his independent debut with the whimsical War! earlier this year, four months later he followed this dazzling debut up with Curtain Call. Both numbers were sheer spectacles leaving me thoroughly excited of what the future holds for Callison. 13th July 2018 saw Zach unveil a brand new single and this being the ever so impeccable She Don’t Know. This being an infectious well written cut which packed a fierce punch.
3rd August 2018 will see the emergence of debut EP A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak and this being a breathtaking slice of perfection. I’ve been extremely lucky to preview this record ahead of the release date and my mind is literally blown. This exquisite EP would make a good rock musical as the featured tunes tell one continuous story of Juanita. Now this majestic effort comprises of 9 tracks, 5 which were originals whilst the other 4 were interludes. Also making appearances on this phenomenal record include Callison’s co-star from Steven Universe, Grace Rolek, on some of the interludes, as well as singers Merges and Jesaiah. Now things kicked off with Phantom Love and this being a sheer epic which left me utterly captivated. This tempting tune reflected on the end of the “Phantom Love” with the mysterious Juanita. Resonating plenty of rock vibes, this sumptuous song was packed with clear cut lyrics and Callison’s soaring vocals. Plus towards the end there was an enthralling high octane rap. This relationship ended with Juanita walking out on Zach Callison “This Phantom Love/ Un tied and severed/ I was never the one/ Is this what you call forever/ Made me promise/ I would never break your heart/ How was I to know that’s what you wanted from the start”. The Interlude I – Franticity featured some girls gossiping and the piano melody had me picturing Sara Bareilles’s original Bad Idea. Following on you had the most recent single and this being She Don’t Know. Flowing plenty of pop rock vibes, this compelling cut was an addictive masterpiece, the whole arrangement was spot on whilst Callison’s vibrant vocals were spotless. Now the split from Juanita is taking a toll on Zach, the love he had for her was the only drug he needed. Now she’s gone Callison has spiraled down into a world of drug use so he can numb the pain that he’s feeling “That there ain’t no drug in all the world/ Like loving you/ Cocaine and cigarettes will have to do/ Won’t somebody save me/ My heart’s beating out my chest/ I just want to hold you with those steady hands/ I once possessed”. Basically Zach is now regretting how things ended and the fact he never told Juanita how much she meant to him. Next up it was time for Interlude II – Christie Only Knows and this served as an outro to She Don’t Know.
Following on it was time for a bit of Nightmare. Smothered in plenty of gorgeous synth goodness this tasty track was extremely different compared to the other 5 originals. Nightmare was a wondrous piece of spoken word which left me in an utter trace, those fierce raps had me envisioning Eminem. Once both the drumbeats and guitars came into play that’s the moment Nightmare transformed into a sheer epic. Once the song progressed you realise that he’s getting therapy from Christie for his addiction/ depression “But no surprise the Nightmares get worse when he takes the pills/ For the first time poison is something that can’t kill the noise/ In his own mind/ He’s seriously delirious and deliriously serious”. The 3rd interlude, Interlude III – Second Thoughts saw the planned murder of Zach’s character “His brain has a sickness/ So kill it at the source”. The 7th track came in the shape of Curtain Call and this one’s pure rock drenched in plenty of synths. Now this tune hit me like a ton of bricks, Callison’s vocals oozed plenty of power whilst those lyrics were brimming with darkness. You begin to realise the torment he’s going through and this has resulted in him turning to alcohol “Bourbon to kill my pain/ Curtains to hold my shame/ No they can’t look away/ Cannot contain my rage”. This number was an epic battle between two versions of the one man, which then resulted in a death. Interlude IV – Showtime featured Steven Universe co star Grace Rolek and they talked about the guilt felt “We utter the name/ With our spirits defeated/ But you let me kill him/ You’re worse that Juanita/ I told you the ending was all for the best/ So I have you to blame for the pain in my chest/ NO/ If you won’t go I will/ To avenge the lost soul I killed”. Things wrapped up with debut single War!. This fast paced track was an explosive sendoff packed with infectious lyrics and a brass section. War! was a captivating unapologetic revenge track which oozed bundles of energy “Okay, right, let’s fight, the late now/ For a while, the while, this is just you and I in the state/ And I don’t know how to play, that’s what little Chiquita Señorita/ Juanita Apple of my eye, in the eye of the storm”.
Here is my understanding of A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak. Zach gets into a relationship with Juanita, when that ends he falls into a state of depression (Phantom Love) and then turns to drugs to numb the pain (She Don’t Know). The 2nd interlude mentioned how Callison had glory on the silver screen and he was crying out for help. He also mentioned how his shadow is holding a gun which will become a reality throughout Curtain Call (Interlude II – Christie Only Knows). During Nightmare Zach sings in third person and the character of Christie is in fact his therapist “Are you writing this down Christie”. The third interlude mentioned about pulling the trigger just to kill Callison’s sickness “His brain has a sickness/ So kill it at the source”. The sickness being Juanita (Interlude III – Second Thoughts). There is then the epic battle between two versions of the same man. I’m assuming Zach’s character has a split personality and if one’s put out of misery the other is set free “Please dear god/ Just give me some price to pay/ I beg you/ Just send me either way/ Oh please god/ Just make it all go away”. Only it doesn’t have the result expected (Curtain Call). Despite being set free after killing Zach, Juanita still has a firm grip and he’s now showing remorse (Interlude IV – Showtime). The finale sees Callison go to War with Juanita to put an end to the feud.
I’ve had this phenomenal mini album on constant rotation and I’m thoroughly impressed with the material featured. Yes Zach may have dropped War!, Curtain Call and She Don’t Know as singles but the likes of Nightmare and Phantom Love ooze bundles of potential. Actually this 30 minute masterpiece is a theatrical epic that’s become my brand new obsession. Callison may be an independent recording artist, but from having listened to the A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak EP his star is burning bright.