Modern yet retro, fresh yet classic, quality music with a raw edge.
It’s always a treat when new music arrives that is simultaneously distinctive and familiar. The new album by Lee Gallagher and the Hallelujah sounds like it may have dropped through a wormhole of time, from a period when the greats were establishing their oeuvre; so listen in to hear music that stands alongside that of 1970’s Rod Stewart, Bob Seger, even Elton John or Queen or Led Zeppelin. It’s important to note at this point, though, that Gallagher doesn’t sound like any of those, so don’t go in expecting it (he sounds like himself, and that’s all to the good). Rather, go in with the idea of the spirit behind those artists in their hey day, when the music was less specified and generic, and labels were prepared to encourage the differences rather than the similarities in their acts.
The first thing, most noticeably (and rare these days), is that Gallagher is completely unafraid to sing out, loud and proud, pushing his voice at times to rise above the music. Of course, in these X-Factored times, there are many singers with the chops to let rip, but they frequently sing in a way that sounds preplanned, anodyne and stereotyped. With Gallagher, however, it feels abandoned and untamed – as if the music demands, and he responds. He’s not afraid to sing sparingly, either, just giving the song whatever it needs at any particular point.
The production is fantastic. It is a rich and full-sounding record, while also being quite natural and raw; not at all an easy trick to pull off. Another thing that gives the album its dynamic, and also its classic feel, is the unashamed use of another unusual thing in modern music, the guitar solo. Producer Jason Soda contributes lead guitar, and to great effect; the songs sometimes stretch out to 6 minutes or more, but never feel over wrought or repetitive; the music is just allowed to develop and build and grow, and always to great effect.
There are really no weaker tracks on the record; opener ‘Planes’ has a slow and elegiac intro, eventually growing into a stately rock anthem; ‘Half Lit (The Future’s Ours)’ has a slightly funky beat, where comparisons with Steve Marriot make sense; ‘Haymaker’ and ‘Remember When’ emphasise Gallagher’s command over melody as well as strength.
It is probably wrong to single out any one track, even though individually they all work as stand alone pieces. However, special mention should be given to ‘Peregrine Fly’; a slow acoustic ballad, featuring the singular violin work of Scarlet Rivera (yes, that Scarlet Rivera, from Dylan’s Rolling Thunder period). This sounds like a ready-made classic, which could easily soundtrack anything from a Hollywood blockbuster to a wildlife documentary, where the titular bird of prey would be swooping and careening over mountains and plains. Wonderful work.
This truly sounds like a proper LP, a record to be played again and again, to live with, to grow to love. If classic rock or classic songwriting are your thing, try ‘The Falcon Ate The Flower’. Just when you think they don’t make ‘em like that any more, Lee Gallagher comes along and does just that.