For such a young artist, Calista Garcia has very impressively honed in on her distinctive singer-songwriter pop music style. The 21-year-old successfully manages to tie together elements of Latin, blues, roots rock, folk, and pop music all into one, melding splendidly with her reflective lyrical style that has been turning heads and piquing interest ever since she first started to gain notice, thanks to her successful run on Season 16 of NBC’s The Voice. The show offered her the opportunity to strut her stuff, and she very capably managed to impress with her vocal abilities and her guitar, piano, ukulele, mandolin, and harmonica skills.

Today is a special day for young Garcia, as it marks the release of her new full-length record, Confession. Featuring eight new tracks, the album was recorded at Plyrz Studios and produced by the Grammy-winning Jim Scott. In writing and recording Confession, Garcia drew inspiration from great singer-songwriters, such as Tom Petty, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Fleetwood Mac. The growth in songwriting and her confidence as an artist is evident, as she has taken a large leap forward from her 2021 A Beautiful World EP and 2019 Wild Woman EP.

One of the best ways to get to know an artist is to get to know them through the music that made them who they are today. Joining us today is Garcia for an edition of Stereo Six, in which she offers up six albums that have been overwhelmingly influential for her as an artist and songwriter.

1. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes (1979, MCA Records)

“This album hugely impacted me, and particularly represented the time in my life around when I recorded Confession. The stir crazy of feeling the world wake up and come together again, and wanting to feel and live everything I’d slept through. Tom’s writing was straight-to-the-point, vulnerable-yet-cool, and perfect. The Heartbreakers sound was revelatory, adrenaline-fueled, raucously pristine, and perfect.

“The fact that Jim Scott, my co-producer, had engineered Wildflowers, and worked with my icons, made the love letter I was writing feel all the more authentic. Around the dinner table, he’d tell stories about ‘Tom,’ until Petty felt like someone I knew.”

2. Paul Simon – Graceland (1986, Warner Bros.)

“I discovered Graceland during my first breakup when I was 15, with a window blown through my heart. I was instantly obsessed. I was fascinated by Simon’s ability to take these infectiously joyful melodies, many of which pulled from world and Latin music that I grew up with (the whole appropriation/appreciation quandary), and attached them to these complex, often devastating, often hilarious, always nuanced lyrics. I loved the idea that facing hard truths doesn’t have to be all painful, there’s room for levity and groove.”

Artwork for the albums Calista Garcia lists in this Stereo Six
Artwork for the albums Calista Garcia lists in this Stereo Six

3. The Eagles – The Very Best of the Eagles (1994, Elektra Records)

The Eagles are a band that have always felt a bit like home to me. Being both Tejano and born in Southern California, a lot of the influences they pulled from sounded like the music I grew up on. Mexican influence on their ballads, and more blues and soul on their later, glossier stuff.

“I remember hearing Don Henley’s voice when I was young and thinking, ‘I want to sound like him.’ Despite not living in California after I was two, it’s always felt like a place I came from, more from a heritage, cultural dream logic standpoint than the one I live in. Plyrz Studios in Santa Clarita felt like home, too.”

4. Billy Joel – The Stranger (1977, Columbia Records)

“Genre-hopping track to track. Rich chord changes. Highbrow musicality and experimentation grounded in fat, earworm hooks. I have a core memory of my little brother, my mom, and I screaming along to all of ‘Scenes From an Italian Restaurant’ one day in the car. The recurring ‘Stranger’ motif, the kind of lovely morsel designed for when albums were listened to all the way through. This record, what a delicious taster course of the best parts of pop/rock songwriting from the era.”

5. The Zombies – Begin Here (1965, Decca)

“Being raised on The Beatles, I was introduced to the British Invasion young. But of all the bowl-cutted, groovy lads, I had a soft spot for The Zombies. In my mind, the gothy, spooky underdogs, hearing ‘She’s Not There’ for the first time was a game changer. That organ sound mixed with the rattley ’60s percussion, mixed with Greg Walker’s soft but enigmatic vocal, created something so mysterious and entrancing. Walker’s vocal becoming less one of mystery but more raw vulnerability on the boldly sparse, large a cappella ‘The Way I Feel Inside.’ I came to love that rattley 60s sound, full of spook, full of camp, full of colour. Effortlessly cool.”

6. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977, Warner Bros.)

“The album likely referenced by most musicians in the vicinity of the genres I straddle; prior to the Daisy Jones, ‘Free-People-ication’ of this band, this was one of the only albums I had on my first iPod. I can’t speak about the path to my artistry without talking about Stevie Nicks. (By God, I dressed as her for Halloween in 7th grade).

“What makes Rumours such a perfect desert island album, and the Mac a desert island band, is how many different things they bring to the table. There’s Stevie’s witchy arcanity, Lindsay Buckingham’s unbridled emotion, Christine Perfect’s rock solid piano pop; what sustenance to be raised on.”

Calista Garcia ‘Confession’ album artwork
Calista Garcia ‘Confession’ album artwork

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