Don Gallardo. All The Pretty Things

Back when Covid hit, Don Gallardo was in the eye of the storm, frantically looking for flights back to the USA after a short tour of European countries. He got back but caught Covid on the flight and was ill for a couple of weeks while isolating in his cellar home studio. Next, as for all of us, there was a long stretch of enforced distancing and (as with all musicians) no gigs to play. Gallardo has used that long stretch to record an album which relates to his experience.

All The Pretty Things began as a series of songs written by and recorded by Gallardo in his home studio but, with time on his hands, he reached out to some friends remotely to spruce the recordings up. Chief of these was Andrew Sovine (grandson of Red Sovine) who has added all manner of instrumentation to the album while Darren Nelson’s vocals weave around, over and under Gallardo’s voice. The result is a gorgeous and laid-back listen which has Gallardo musing on the effects of the virus and, ultimately, offering some hope that life can get back to normal.

He tops and tails the album with two songs which portray the uncertainty which gripped the world as it shut up shop. “All right, here we go…” he says, when Lost Hope launches the album with its gossamer like frailty as he goes on to sing, “I wonder who I am these days.” The closing song, Gypsum – a cover of a Virgil Shaw number – while written well before the pandemic, acts as a parable of sorts for that time when we were all somewhat driftless amidst the miasma of conflicting scientific and political claims. Midway through the album, The Urgency, a truly cosmic swoon of a song with a slight Beatles touch to it, finds Gallardo advising all to relax, that what goes down can also come up. The title song, a breezy Wilco like number, echoes this sentiment while Dear Friends is Gallardo’s love letter to his fans and friends abroad as he sings about all he misses on his continental jaunts and it has a fine old Grateful Dead American Beauty like lilt to it.

It has to be said that Gallardo, Sovine and Nelson gel wonderfully throughout the album. The Dreamers Of the World, which is kind of like a Covid dream song, is quite sublime with its multilayered vocals and filigreed tapestry of ornamental keyboards. Time’s Not Lost On You is truly in cosmic country territory as Sovine lets rip a glorious fuzzed guitar solo midway and Stuck On Love, a song which alludes to Gallardo’s flight from the virus back to home, hearth and family, is quite affecting in its yearning quality. Altogether, the album is perhaps the most mellow disc Gallardo has recorded but it’s infused with warmth and a healthy regard for the human spirit.

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