Cake and Callouses: An adequate acoustic album

The music inside is better than it looks like it should be based on the cover. Keep an eye on this one, because she has the talent to actually be a decent musician.

Taylor Rocca, Roving Editor  Ω

Hailing from Calgary, Alta, Angela Saini is a self-described combination of Feist and Sheryl Crow with a sour cherry candy on top.

Cake and Callouses is Saini’s debut EP and I will admit that I didn’t have high hopes when I first looked at the bubble-gum pop-looking album cover featuring the singer in a short leopard-print dress holding a matching feather boa and posing like a six-year-old on the first day of school.

It doesn’t help that the designer of the cover chose to conveniently chop off Saini’s toes, leaving me to wonder how she manages to hold that pose so steadily.

That being said, Saini proves true the old saying that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

While Cake and Callouses isn’t the “shrink-wrapped to sell” pop garbage I was worried it would be, it also isn’t anything groundbreaking or new.

Saini establishes herself as a strong vocalist and guitar player but the lack of depth in the album’s lyrics really take away from the strength of the work as a whole.

There is certainly room for growth, but Saini displays strong enough talent to give hope that she can one day reach her potential and become an accomplished Canadian female acoustic artist.

The first song that caught my ear was Close to You.

Saini’s vocal strengths come through impressively on the track, pulling on the heartstrings of the listener.

The lyrical depth isn’t magical or that inspiring, but Saini sounds great throughout. I’m not sure what it is about the track, whether it’s Saini’s soft voice or the soothing guitar, but something about Close to You almost instantly reminded me of Jeff Buckley’s cover of the Leonard Cohen hit Hallelujah.

The slow build on the EP continues with The Story.

Upbeat and by far the heaviest track on the album, Saini sings, “I always loved tragedy until I saw it happen to me.”

I found myself tapping my foot as I was able to almost instantly connect with this track.

Dear Diary is hyped as one of the stronger tracks on Cakes and Callouses as it was nominated for a 2010 International Acoustic Music Award.

While it isn’t the worst song I have heard lately, it definitely isn’t the strongest track on Saini’s debut EP.
If I was a 14-year-old girl, I might be able to relate to this song better.

Keeping Score slides in to the number five slot on the EP and it marks the point in which Saini’s voice resembles Sheryl Crow the most.

Discovered by Johnny Fay, the drummer from Canadian rock icon The Tragically Hip, Saini went on to record demos with him that would contribute to Cake and Callouses.

Currently on a cross-Canada tour, Saini will play a show in Kamloops at The Commodore on Apr. 19.
From there, she heads back to her home province of Alberta for shows in Red Deer, Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton.

Following the Alberta leg of her tour, Saini will hit the rails, heading east to Toronto courtesy of VIA Rail and the VIA Rail On Board performance series.