Published Nov 04, 2014To date, Toronto's Merna (formerly/alternatively known as Ayah) has had an interesting career as a soul-based artist. The gifted vocalist is a known entity in the Canadian music underground as someone who's carried a perpetual "she's next" aura for a few years running — so much so that using the name Merna as opposed to Ayah represents a reinvention of sorts. Apparently an artistic and personal clearing of the decks was in order, as "older and wiser" vibes permeate The Calling's ten tracks. While in the past she's had the big name producer backing of someone like DJ Jazzy Jeff (2011's Back for More collaboration) the pedigreed trend continues in the form of production by Makai Black and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest fame.
A track like "Intervention" (SuperMan) carries a Beyoncé R&B-pop feel, with Merna owning it on vocals. Despite its "I Will Survive" type vibe, the bassy and anthemic "Games We Play" suffers from a soggy hook, but numbers like the wistful "The Reason," the delightfully strident title track, the pop ballad "A Little More" and the strings-powered (and Marsha Ambrosius-feeling) "One for You" more than make up for it. Overall, The Calling carries a contemplative and mature vibe of someone who has loved, lost, learned and lived on. In that respect, Merna has perhaps created her strongest effort to date. (W.A.R. Media)