- 06 May 22
Top Of The Sophisti-Pops.
John Gallen is a 51-year-old Dubliner and this is his debut album. That remarkable turn-of-events is explained by the fact that Gallen has done time in business, running a successful law firm, as well as a stint of global wandering that included living with 56 sex workers in Manila. He has stories to tell.
A product of the lockdown, 1970s emerges as a cleverly co-ordinated album of sophisticated white soul-pop-rock. Spiced with tasty brass and strings, it features a band – top session players among them – that can boogie, and excellent vocals and harmonies, all brought together under the watchful ears of the accomplished Billy Farrell, at the production desk.
While Gallen’s lyrics roam across a wide range of subjects, the musical settings anchor the listener in a kind of period pop heaven, with subtle touches of Ferry, Bowie et al. The nostalgic title-track is a slice of vintage pop-rock, made for the radio, while ‘Je m’en Fous’ (French for “I don’t give a fuck”) explores society’s vulnerable underbelly over a languid backdrop.
‘Half Burning Sun’ allows tasty vocal harmonies to shine unimpeded, while strings add drama to the sensitively-sung ‘Coma’. And with the soulful ’Enemy’, the singer articulates his political scepticism.
A slinky ‘Shimmerdance’ whisks us off to the dancefloor, though I’m less convinced by ‘Lost And Found’. ‘3 x 21 Tris/on/omy’, meanwhile, comes via the viewpoint of a person with Down’s Syndrome, to which Gallen brings a degree of reality that is surely enlightening.
Its title notwithstanding, there isn’t a total ban on contemporary production values, and there’s a reassuring confidence about the sometimes virtuoso playing. All told, 1970s confirms both the remarkable emergence of a bright new talent and that age really doesn’t matter.