If you only know John Gallagher, jr. from his acting roles in films like Short Term 12 or television programs like “Newsroom,” you’re really only seeing a limited view of the man’s many talents. He’s an award-winning Broadway actor whose performance in musicals like “Spring Awakening” and Green Day’s “American Idiot” catapulted him into the elite of musical theater. He’s long been an active songwriter in his free time, finally releasing his debut album as Johnny Gallagher after sitting on the material for a long while waiting for a period when he wasn’t busy with other projects.
As a long-time fan of the Gallagher the actor, I had high hopes for Six Day Hurricane, and I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed. My biggest concern was that his work in musicals would have an effect on his vocal takes. That worry turned out to be silly, because there’s nothing on this album that would ever even elude to his training in that arena. Instead the vocals sound a lot more like Ryan Adams or Jeff Tweedy-wise, a little bitter, a little broken.
The style isn’t really what I expected at all, but it’s in line with my usual taste (which makes me think that Gallagher and I would probably be fast friends). It’s a mix of country-tinged folk rock and radio-friendly mainstream rock. If Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers didn’t become a band until after The Jayhawks Rainy Day Music came out, they might sound a bit like this. You can find this sound heavily on “Dangerous Strangers.”
The song features my favorite lyrics on the album:
“It don’t take flesh and bone to make a best friend, don’t need to breathe and bleed it can be inanimate. Something that stays with you, when people just don’t. Sure they love you, but can’t and just won’t. And yeah with all this love, I wanna rip it up, I wanna get dressed up, I wanna destruct. I bet you know some things that I do not yet. If you show me I will be your teacher’s pet.”
The album flows pretty well, with a balance of uptempo tunes and ballads. Surprisingly well considering, to paraphrase Gallagher, they were throwing darts to choose which nine songs they would record out of the fifty he brought to the studio. They chose wisely, and I hope the other forty plus numbers see the light of day at some point.
As an added bonus, here’s a clip of the singer in my favorite episode of “West Wing.”