Kevin Galloway's 'The Change' Is an Earnest Promise to His Family

Former Uncle Lucius frontman Kevin Galloway created his soulful first solo effort as "a love letter, and a promise to my newly formed family" and it's as memorable as any of his previous work.

The Change
Kevin Galloway

Nine Mile

17 August 2018

Earlier this year, Uncle Lucius made their final bow. The jam band became a staple of Austin's burgeoning music scene, finding success on the road with their soulful rock stylings for 12 strong years. Capping off an extended farewell tour with a two-night stay at Gruene Hall, the band that helped define the scorching Austin Americana scene for over a decade went out with a bang instead of a whisper. They went off with fans questioning where they might go next.

For such bonafide artists as Kevin Galloway, who left a life in East Texas as a banker and music minister to fully dive into Austin's trappings with Uncle Lucius, the band's end surely could not have meant his whole retirement. Galloway announced his decision to leave Uncle Lucius back in September of 2017, a good six months before the end of the band's farewell show in New Braunfels. We didn't know it then, but we do now that the next step in his musical career would be to pursue work as a solo artist.

Galloway's solo career begins with the recently released The Change. Aptly titled, the album veers left from Uncle Lucius' much rowdier portrayal of Austin Americana. Although still firmly rooted in the Texan disposition that made his music with the band as indelible as it was, The Change presents Galloway with the unique opportunity to extend those roots past the high-paced improv of the jam band formula for something a pitched a little more softly. The music is still earthen and palpably alive but in a sense more in-tune to the folksier side of Galloway's folk-rock approach.

That down-home comfort is still there, pervading each bit of The Change with an undeniable Austin flavor, but the honky-tonk Galloway is inviting us into is a little quainter. That goes hand-in-hand with life for Galloway following his departure with Uncle Lucius, with the artist previously describing it as "a love letter, and a promise to my newly formed family". With two children under three at the Galloway home, Galloway put family first by taking a step back from the breakneck tour life that Uncle Lucius provided. He did this, though, without leaving the music behind.

Thematically, listeners can feel this sort-of change in Galloway from the album's opening moments. Sun shines over the furthest corners of "Don't It Feel Good to Smile", a song that conveys its tone perfectly through its title alone. The subtle sway of the album opener carries the overall story of love and keeping it in the family by painting a picture in listener's minds of an early Texas morning spent with two lovers between coffee and a cigarette. That is followed up with a blues infusion dedicated to his son, with Galloway tending to the delivery of "Face in My Mind" with careful soulfulness. That blues meets the countryside on the cool "Miles and Miles", Galloway's answer to the classic Americana road song with some windswept keys and pedal steel for good measure.

The album's title track plays out like a sequence catered to depicting what Galloway himself has avoided by cooling down the tour life, detailing the story of a man who wants another try after his lover left him while he was gone "chasing his dreams". All's well that ends well for the two lovebirds, though, when he returns home for his love to hear his pleas. She notices his genuine shift in tone and gives him a chance he's needed, with an earnest conveyance of this story from Halloway keeping it from going stale from the beginning to the middle, and the end. Of course, the breezy country finesse of Halloway's accompanying band helps the affair, too, producing another captivating melody that swirls around Halloway's vocals with utmost finesse.

It should be noted that The Change features two cover songs amidst a bounty of original numbers. Galloway's take on Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher's "You Are So Beautiful" is just one out there amongst the droves, but his natural, soulful inflection ferries it home with such an intrinsically emotional delivery that it most certainly stands out. As a love letter to his spouse and his family, one would imagine there would be no greater gift to press into the middle of the album to drive that theme home. His take on Hal Callery's "Hands on the Wheel" hits similar notes to the serious soul being laid out with his "You Are So Beautiful" rendition, although much subtler in delivery. In Galloway's hands, the old country tune leans further towards a gospel delivery without going over-the-top with his vocal presentation. Rather, it's the full force of the band joining Galloway that brings this cover home.

Although The Change marks what it says on the tin for Halloway, he hasn't forgotten the friends he's made along the way either. Uncle Lucius co-conspirator Hal Jon Vorpahl produced the album alongside EAR Studio proprietor James Stevens. Uncle Lucius' own Jonathan Grossman hits the keys on the record, with further support from Kim Deschamps (pedal steel), Kevin Smith (bass), Doug Strahan (guitar), Benito "Ace" Acevedo (harp), and George Duron (percussion, drums). It's a whos-who of Austin favorites with a dash of Uncle Lucius charm stirred in for good measure. Even though Halloway's vision on The Change is more focused on carrying across his own story amidst his decision to leave Uncle Lucius for the sake of family, his band plays in a way that helps him tell these stories as if they were their own. This team comes together effortlessly to craft this soulful brand of Americana, and they do so in a way that makes it as memorable as previous Uncle Lucius efforts—just more under the guise of a storyteller sitting down and opening up to give us his autobiography.






A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.