It’s a little strange to hear someone as young (24 years old) as [Christopher] Gallant sound so similar to Prince circa before Gallant was even born. Gallant deserves credit for learning from the best. Let me be clear: Ology, Gallant’s debut disc has been two years in the making and released before Prince was reported ill (so it is not an attempt to cash-in). It just shows what a big wake Prince left behind. Even today’s newest artists find much value to be found in the Purple One’s music.
While there are many musical similarities between Gallant and Prince, especially in the sound of their voices and the ways in which they sing in the off-beat for rhythm, they have very different personae. Prince’s narrators were confident, which befits a man who claimed a royal title (okay, it was also his real first name). Here, Gallant comes off as more of a Goofus. The highlights on this album reveal the singer suffers from irresponsibility and immaturity, which makes him reckless and willing to take chances despite his internal reservations. He may claim to “hold my liquor like the saints do”, but it is only so he can be a sinner. He counts on others to make him that way.
That’s because Gallant exposes his vulnerabilities. He sings over and over again that he’s not afraid to experience pain. He croons in a quiet voice over synths and beats about the perils of being open as he lays himself bare for others to hurt. For example, on the resolute “Bourbon”, Gallant proclaims that he’s “a headless horseman on quilted sand dunes / with my neck wide open”. He also stoically states, “I love in cold blood”, but the crack in his voice reveals this is false. He gets lost in the “champagne quicksand”. So much for love, but these quotes reveal Gallant’s poetic nature. He doesn’t just say something like “I left myself open for love and got hurt so good”; instead, Gallant muses much more eloquently.
At times, Gallant may be a bit self-indulgent, but there is something sexy about the whole thing. This is markedly true on his discussion of his molecules betraying him in “Talking to Myself” as he oooh-hoo-hooos about being “Earthbound and scatterbrained”. The song shouldn’t work. Too much emotion is shooed in. But Gallant’s high pitched vocals voice suggests he sings out of an inner need to open up, no matter what the cost. Actually, thinking has little to do with it. The song would be more accurately titled, “My Feelings Betray Me”. What makes this even funnier is that Ology is on the Mind of a Genius record label.
Of course, being a genius doesn’t just mean one has to be intellectual; it could mean one who has artistic talent way above the norm. Gallant has a solid claim on this definition on this album. While calling him a genius at this point may be an exaggeration, Gallant does have solid songwriting, singing, and studio chops. His first record reveals a felicity with language, a charismatic manner of singing, and a deep understanding of what makes a song work well beyond his years. Each track works on several layers. One can listen to it, make love to it, or just move to the beats.
Gallant may claim that he only has a sword with which to battle the shotguns of the world, and that he’s just bone and tissue. But sometimes it just takes a man with a blade to get things done. Just ask Prince.
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