If you can imagine a collection of songs that highlight some of the greatest R&B influences in recent years; Gallant’s ‘Ology’ would epitomise that. Hailing from Washington, and moving from New York to Los Angeles, Gallant represents one of the first artists to completely dictate a new meaning to R&B and Hip-Hop. Combining deep soul, lounge jazz and electronica, Christopher Gallant motions a plethora of styles and directions in his pieces, with excellent development and transitions culminating in a head-bopping album that will remain relevant throughout the ages.
What Gallant possesses more so than any other R&B artist right now, is the ability to keep the listener in suspense as they wonder what could possibly come next, and whether it could top the last song. Opening with ‘First’ an electronic hitting interlude with slowed down vocals and strings creates an ambient atmosphere. As with most album openers you would think this would suggest the direction of the album, but Gallant immediately surprises, changing direction into a glitch hop electronica-cum-funk beat, for ‘Talking to Myself’ and introducing his signature falsetto style. The chorus erupts into a surging Flume inspired synth lead and a skipping drum beat that trips up every few bars, hinting at the many fantastic surprises ‘Ology’ has in store. It’s worth noting that the production value on ‘Ology’ is impeccable, with the use of excellent sampling loops with each instrument and synth gated to perfection. ‘Shotgun’ and ‘Bourbon’ follow as Gallant shows off his chest voice, and melodic rapping phrasings, with fantastic blends of acoustic and electronica, possibly paying homage to Frank Ocean’s arrangement style.
What becomes increasingly apparent in Gallant’s song-writing ability is how he can write excellent verses as well as choruses, a feat that is lacking in the majority of artists in the R&B game. At times in ‘Oh Universe’, ‘Chandra’ and ‘Open Up’ Gallant reveals a softer and more vulnerable side, sticking stylistically to one genre, and taking advantage of sparse heavily reverbed acapella backing vocals, before blasting into morphing choruses packed full of passion and sincerity. However, ‘Chandra’ differs from this mould, transitioning instead into emotional strings and piano, constructing a new layer of isolation and hope in Gallant’s message.
‘Skipping Stones’ a collaborative effort between Gallant and Jhene Aiko grants an Alabama Shakes vibe of slow American jazz. Jhene brings a much-needed mellow and smooth tone that beautifully compliments Gallant’s passion and fire that he adheres to ‘Ology’. It’s one of the leading tracks that is certain to be blasted through the airwaves, with a promising future of being one 2016’s leading summer tracks.
After the emotional ballad that is ‘Chandra’ the album disintegrates into oscillating white noise, for album closer ‘Last’, bringing the immense album full circle. Gallant brings variety and intrigue into a dry genre, and isn’t afraid of creating hybrid beats that reminisce the spectrum of R&B and soul since its conception. This lack of fear for judgement and interpretation has created one of the standout releases of the year, truly paying homage to the albums title, and lays the foundations for a vibrant and interesting career ahead of Gallant.
‘Ology’ is available now via Mind of a Genius.
This Gallant article was written by John Gitins, a Gigsoup contributor. Edited by Samantha Melrose.