Irish born singer/songwriter Michael Gallagher is back with his second release of the year, the Christmas themed EP ‘Three Kings’’. We reviewed his full length album ‘Frontier’ earlier in the year, describing it as “a gently, intelligently romantic record”, and ‘Three Kings’ is very much more of the same, but with added festive flavour.
“Taking inspiration from the many traditions of the season”, Gallagher explains, “I wanted to write something sincere and capture the Christmases I remember; the Nativity, ghost stories, gifts, family, and also the melancholy it brings, when you look back nostalgically”. That melancholic nostalgia is a rich vein which runs right through the EP’s five tracks. Lovingly crafted through dreamy production and ethereal vocals, it makes you long for Christmases past, whether real or imagined.
Opening track ‘Long Way To Christmas’ kicks off proceedings with a catchy banjo riff and a driving, shuffling drum beat which moves things along nicely. Second track ‘Christmas No1’ is a love song that takes things in a completely different, but not unwelcome, direction with a laid-back bossa nova rhythm – courtesy of Gallagher’s long term collaborator Paco Loco, who also provides Spanish guitar for tracks ‘Ghost Writer’ and ‘Holloway’.
All in all, this is a welcome addition to the alternative Christmas music list. The characteristic gentle intelligence of Gallagher’s music does not suffer for being Christmassed up (Festified? Nöelled?), and the Spanish and South American touches are as welcome as they are unexpected. The one question that may spring to mind is “Do we really need another Christmas album?”, but ‘Three Kings’ isn’t just a Christmas album for the sake of it; it’s a genuine, heartfelt reflection on tradition, memory, love, and all the many layers that intersect and overlap at this time of the year.