Daily Distraction: Call Me Rita wants to know if you're OK

Watch the new lyric video from the Columbus band fronted by poet and artist Vanessa Jean Speckman

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Vanessa Jean Speckman

On Confessions and Culpabilities, the 2020 debut album from Call Me Rita, artist and poet Vaness Jean Speckman joined with a backing band to give a musical jolt to her spoken word incantations, many of which were penned amid the uncertain early days of the pandemic.

“I didn’t want it to be some dramatic, boring piece where you’re just feeling the heaviness of the words,” Speckman said in an April 2020 interview with Alive. “I wanted it to feel like I do when I listen to music, or when I read poems or even pages in a book, where I can hear and see things in my head. … You don’t have to associate [the words] with sadness or somber sounds. It can be a celebration, or a roller coaster where you’re feeling all of these emotions. And I guess I hope that’s where those eight tracks in 13 minutes take you, making you explore those feelings and hopefully leaving you where you know that maybe we all feel that way at some point in time, and that it’s all OK.”

Now, Speckman and her Rita bandmates are checking back in, releasing a new lyric video for "Are You Okay?," which finds the poet continuing to mine the fallout of the last couple of years, a point in time when "all elegance exited," as Speckman puts it on the track, which is one fitting epilogue for this ongoing sweatpants-on-Zoom era.

More than anything, though, the song is a plea for kindness and humanity, and of the need to strive to be better in our short time on the planet, particularly in this bleak age. Of course, these ideas are accompanied by snarling guitars that could be described as impolite, Speckman and Co. continuing to raise hell in the service of peace.