What makes a place home? Leeann Skoda has spent many years traveling — expanding her definition of the term. She spent her youth in Phoenix, Arizona, where the sound of oldies on FM stations and bluegrass caught her ear. But in her early 20s, wanderlust set in and she took off from the Sonoran Desert and made her way to Europe, where she spent evenings singing in cafes and bars in Southern Spain. Upon her return to the States, she settled in Los Angeles, quickly folding into the vibrant country and folk music scene there. But Skoda’s songs aren’t documents of place so much as they are documents of the scenery around her. It’s an album about people — their loves, their celebratory faiths, the way someone can fill a room, bringing it to life. That’s what defines “home” in these golden-hued songs. Though she spent her youth singing in choir and learning the ins-and-outs of traditional music,Skoda didn’t begin writing her own songs until 25, waiting until she’d lived enough life to properly imbue her words with some knowing. It’s one of the reasons Call Me Back Home doesn’t sound like a debut. Skoda sounds beyond her years, employing Bakersfield twang,Nashville smarts, a little Spanish romance, and plenty of West Coast pop breeze. There’s an easiness to her sound, but also a fierceness. Recorded mostly live with her band, the recording captures particular instances, portraits of mood and vibe. It’s a rare for records to be made this way anymore, or for them to reflect this kind of honesty. But the loose and spontaneous approach taps into a certain kind of magic, the kind that fussed over sessions rarely possess. There’s a feeling of presence in these songs. Call Me Back Home is the sound of people in a room, tied together, listening to the subtle shifts in each other’s playing, following the tracks of melody and form. It’s the sound of Leeann Skoda’s songs filling up a room, making a moment into home, something to be lived in.

— Jason P. Woodbury, Phoenix, Arizona