BWW CD Reviews: Brian Gallagher's ALL THAT'S AHEAD is Smartly Captivating and Emotional
Broadway veteran Brian Gallagher, seen as Lord Savage in the 2013 revival of JEKYLL & HYDE, is a bona fide singer/songwriter. His debut album ALL THAT'S AHEAD, featuring a healthy handful of appearances from his wife Megan Hilty, is informed by the emotional sincerity and unembellished structure of the blues tradition and the genuine strength of singer/songwriters. ALL THAT'S AHEAD offers the best of the blues and singer/songwriter genres with a footprint that is uniquely his own.
Not since Adam Pascal's MODEL PRISONER have I gotten completely lost in the ambience and raw power of a rocking singer/songwriter album. Like Dave Matthew's SOME DEVIL or MODEL PRISONER, the music consumes the listener and envelops him or her in its relatable lyrics and irresistibly infectious musicality. Composed with the familiar modalities of the blues, singer/songwriter, and even light rock toolboxes, Brian Gallagher's ALL THAT'S AHEAD still feels original and, most importantly, authentic.
From the soft opening on the first track, "Chase the Sun," the listener is drawn into the album and quickly falls under the spell of music that captivates, tells, a story, and motivates. With lyrics that deal with feeling lonely, even around people, and the desire to get out of the situations that hold us back, "Chase the Sun" speaks to the human desire to be loved and happy with the choices one has made. This sentiment is tangible in the driving and somewhat angsty tunes "Turbulence" and "Walking." "Turbulence" inspires tapping toes while empowering the listener with the idea that to love and be loved is more important than the issues that add turbulence to life. "Walking" explores the idea that we feel stronger when we share our journeys with others. And, that's just the first three cuts on the album.
Across all eleven tracks, there isn't a single song that I dislike. In fact, every time that I spin the album I find myself drawn to a different song and discovering a new lyric or a new guitar riff that hits me cerebrally and/or emotionally in a new way. As of now, other standout songs on the album include the hopeful and romantic tune "We'll Be Fine," with its repetition of the lyric "We will succeed." The decidedly old school jam feel of the fast moving lyrics and heavy rhythmic guitar line on "Screaming" grab attention in the best of ways. The tangible pain and heartbreak of "All That's Ahead" makes this a particularly stirring tune. Both "Atmosphere" and "The Future Song" are uplifting tunes that inspire feelings of joy and happiness.
Vocally, Brian Gallagher expertly employs a spirited voice that drives the album and allows the lyrics to easily slip under the skin. His occasional use of a gravel rough timbre is impactful. Opposite his own voice, Megan Hilty's appearances blend well with his vocals, often serving as a soothing whisper that makes the lyrics more poignant and sometimes even haunting. Because her star has grown so large recently I imagine it would have been easy to allow Megan Hilty to take center stage on the album; yet, she only appears when she can truly service the record and benefit the music.
Brian Gallagher's ALL THAT'S AHEAD is a smartly constructed album that inspires the audience to revisit it again and again. Normally, when reviewing I listen to an album three times. However, I haven't been able to stop listening to this record, and my play counts are now in the double digits on my iPod. ALL THAT'S AHEAD is a record I'll gladly be taking in again and again for quite some time to come.
Brian Gallagher released ALL THAT'S AHEAD digitally on January 22, 2015. The album can be purchased from iTunes, CDbaby, and Amazon. Physical copies are forthcoming, and a special album release concert and party is scheduled for April 27, 2015 at Birdland Jazz Club in New York City. For more information about the Birdland event, click here. For more information about Brian Gallagher, please visit http://briangallagheronline.com.