It’s common for album reviews to mention, overtly or otherwise, artists, bands or songs in some way related to the subject-matter at hand. This is generally for comparative purposes; after all, when you’re treading water in the sea of modern music, thousands of miles from Abbey Road and 40-odd years from Liege and Lief, it’s natural to want to strike out for the nearest buoy, to seek safety in the familiar.
I’m as guilty as the next person, but I always think it must be terribly frustrating to read that someone you don’t know thinks you sound like either a) an icon of the music world – ‘What chance do I stand against that?!’ – or b) someone they wouldn’t be seen dead with at a mortuary. For the artist in question, it’s lose-lose, right? I shall, therefore, say this only once and move on. Jack Peachey, or Gallery 47 as he is known, can occasionally sound a little like Paul Simon.
Gallery (Mr. 47?) is a sparky, Nottingham-based singer-songwriter in his mid-20s. All Will Be Well is his second album, following a 2011 debut Fate Is The Law and the 2013 EP, Dividends. The album trades in mellow, occasionally pastoral fare, largely but not exclusively via finger-picked guitar and double-tracked vocals. The odd off-piste mission sees tremulous percussion and dulcimer and he’s not averse to upping the tempo when the feeling takes him, as he does on second track Feel So Young, propelled by kick drum and an insistently catchy melody that threatens at points to drown out the words. As a brief treatise on optimism, Feel So Young is an interesting departure from the majority of the lyrics, though still pretty dark. It’s quickly apparent that Jack has not had a brilliant time lately and the album is a reaction to the welter of confusing emotions assailing him in the period that followed. Those of you at the back rolling your eyes should withhold opinion a little longer, however (and read the liner notes on the album).
The lyric content of All Will Be Well shows astonishing maturity. Come to New York opens like a love song but closes with the couplet ‘If you’re not in love / I don’t know why we’re talking anyway’, which puts the earlier line ‘..you’re the only love I’ve ever known’ in perspective. It’s just one of several blunt and barbed twists on the album that prove there’s more to Jack than the next manufactured troubadour for teenagers.
When The World Gets You Down is a gorgeous lullaby-like ballad that seeks to extend the bravado of Feel So Young amid floral metaphors and sibling rivalries that resolve into an ear-worm of a one-line chorus. Close To The Mind begins with the sort of line novelists beg for – I won’t spoil it for you; go and buy it. It also includes the most creative arrangement on the album and a sound that’s closer to an American roots vibe, with the best lyrics on the album; ‘I’ll run away to Maginot and rebuild the line / and when you crawl on through the Belgian-bordered forest you’ll find / that the people like me learn from history and I’ve planted mines / because you’re never getting close to my heart until you’re close to my mind’. It’s a morning of GSCE lessons in three minutes. That MA in Philosophy isn’t being wasted, is it Jack?
The album has it’s stark moments. Please Not Yet stares down the long tunnel from a hospital bed towards the white light but shuts the door. Little Job In A Bookshop is delivered in a breathless low key and yearns for the comfort of our favourite things. It is perhaps the most closely aligned to a certain small-framed guitar virtuoso who experienced mild success in the late 60s with his tall pal. Moving on… Some Things, ‘When your little glass heart is shatterproof / you’re left with nothing to use..’ employs the by-now familiar repeated picked string method but sounds just as fresh as the other material – Jack has the ability to turn a melody on a pin and have you sliding down into the next line. Two plays in, I was humming the tunes; three and I was singing along.
The explosion of home recording and methods to market the output has long been a red rag to the doomsayers that believe music as an art form is a watered down imitation of its glorious past. There may be some truth in that, but it has allowed the quality talent that may have ended up working in a bookshop to rise to the surface. Jack acknowledges the argument in Little Lost with a pithy but gentle swipe at the naysayers; ‘So you’re gonna be a movie star? / Well, maybe not… I am one inch too small and the agent didn’t call’. Such a measure of awareness in a man in his mid-20s is welcome and when it’s allied to music of this quality, land must surely be in sight soon for Gallery 47. All comparisons are irrelevant.
Review by: Paul Woodgate
Released 15 September on I’m Not From London Records
Pre-Order via: Amazon