You go girl! This CD mixes the perfect combination of solid music, great singing, energy and conviction. While McCalla's lyrics keep their edge, the production is more rounded and polished than her previous releases. It is somewhat less rock oriented, with a variety of sounds from folky to blue grassy to bluesy to rock. The ten original songs cover the range from highly political to love affairs to philosophical reflections on life and death. McCalla doesn't mince words and opens with the blistering “If God Only Knew,” first listing whimsical tongue-in-cheek reasons why God has not acted on our ample transgressions. Then, McCalla lists the provocations that deserve divine retribution. one punishment being “recalling our brains and opposable thumbs.” “Playing for Keeps” advises the listener to keep on keeping on, that whatever we do from the heart should be done with passion. A reflective song on grandparents “As Tall As Grandpa Stands” benefits from Laurie Lewis's and Tom Rozum's harmonies imparting a bluegrass flavor. "Happy to Be on the Planet" could be an anthem for all of us. “Cradled in Green” expresses McCalla's ecological credo and how nature can ease the troubled soul. The concluding Gospel-like “Walk Me to the River” captures the essence of the religious Gospel number without the religion. The song celebrates facing death with pride, dignity and acceptance. The CD goes out the same way it comes in, with power, conviction and grace. McCalla is no newcomer to the music scene, which makes Playing for Keeps an even more exhilarating example of her talent. I advise keeping it for playing. - RWarr (copyright 2004 Sing Out!. Reprinted with permission)
Do You Need More Folk Music?
Deidre McCalla's Strums Will Satisfy
The lyrics of Deidre McCalla's “If God Only Knew” find the soulful folk crooner preaching a cryptic gospel: “From crusades to jihads/We wage holy wars/And when God finds out/She is gonna be sore.” Her latest album, Playing for Keeps, is full of lovely, lilting melodies and clever lyrics. Her Website identifies McCalla as an African-American lesbian feminist, but her songs don't dwell on politics and sexuality. Songs like “Mama Loves Me” and “Happy to Be on the Planet” celebrate love, unity, and life's wondrous, simple pleasures. Enjoy the music of this dreadlocked troubadour tonight ... --Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik, Miami New Times
"Deidre McCalla is a voice of hope...willing to be human and sing about love and relationships...a singer so poignant and telling."
– Patriot Star Ledger
"Take an acoustic guitar, add a vibrant voice and let them both loose on themes from peace to poignant love. Then you'll have Deidre McCalla."
–The Capital Times
"...a highly distinctive voice in a crowded field of contemporary folk music."
–Austin American Statesman