Releasing an album is cause for celebration, and Norman-based singer/ songwriter John Calvin did his share as he let loose of his second album, “Wish Alloy.” But, like a good artist, he didn’t stop there.
“When you make an album, it’s a snapshot of you in that point of time — a sonic photo album, you could say. It was nice to have them done and share with people,” he said. “It’s not only a tool for self-promotion, but also self-analysis. It showed me all my inconsistencies and inadequacies.”
The record — brimming with simple and upbeat folk, indie rock and blues ditties — has had a few months to settle. While he enjoys the finished product, much time since has been spent looking at how it could have been better.
“I don’t hate my songs, and I hate the perfectionist attitude. I just want them to be better,” Calvin said. “Songs are never completed. All these songs are in transit. Like one of the sound engineers told me, ‘You never finish recording an album; you just abandon it.’” Not that it’s all bad … “It portrayed growth and adaptation, the evolution of my sound. It shows your craftsmanship and how you’ve learned to build,” he said. “If I was a painter, those would be my first couple of sketches.”
A new batch of songs is quickly cropping up that will assemble into a new album within a year’s time. A planet rife with devastating problems is the perfect muse for the anthropology student who is perpetually in tune with the climate of the world at large. He’s one of a dwindling number of artists who really care about spreading a message that goes deeper than love; it seems appropriate that Calvin, with his affinity for polyester shirts and a wild mane of hair, quite easily could pass for a young Bob Dylan.
“With the stuff going on in Japan, and the Libyan conflict and the Palestinian/Gaza conflict,” he said, “there’s terrible shit happening everywhere. It’s the social function of an artist to help people hear about and relate to these things, and offer their abilities and talents to the awareness and support of the people who are in the fray helping out.”
It’s not so much of their pain being his gain, but making sure everyone else knows how it feels.
“These people can’t walk down the street without having to worry about a Howitzer shell flying past their head,” Calvin said. “I can’t adequately express how these people are feeling, but I can express about how I feel about what they are dealing with. From what I’ve seen, heard and felt, it hurts.”
It won’t be long before Calvin spreads his message and music beyond the bounds of Oklahoma, but first things first.
“I’m going to graduate, and I’m not going to get a real job, because my real job is music,” he said. “I’m going to hit the road after I graduate, find myself in a new place. Maybe Nashville … but I’ll still be around for a few years. I’ve got some more things to show Norman first.”