Gallant // Open Up
I’ve spilled much praise over Gallant’s single-minded approach to R&B before both here and in the pages of NME Radar, and as Gallant’s new press release reminds us, I may have strayed a few inches too close to hyperbole when I claimed that he’d have ‘redefined R&B by the end of the year.’ In fairness to myself, the condition attached was ‘if he continues at this rate,’ which he unfortunately/fortunately didn’t, depending on which way you look at it.
Instead of showering the music industry with rushed tracks, the LA by way of NYC artist took a step back from things to properly mull over his new material, meaning that we didn’t get any potentially R&B redefining tracks by the end of the year. The flipside of that, of course, is that ‘Open Up’ actually justifies all of those lofty claims; it’s challenging and pioneering enough to mark Gallant out as a real visionary.
It’s got all that hallmark that made his early tracks so promising: the slight falsetto that sounds like it’s in severe danger of shattering under the weight of his own emotion. But what’s so special about ‘Open Up’ is how unconstrained that production is. It simultaneously sounds reminiscent of the aquatic synth madness of Rustie’s Glass Swords, the ghostly gasps of a Tri Angle artist, and something far more archaic via intermittent bursts of warm jazz keys.
He’s somewhere at that apex between the old and the new, expertly weaving together all these disparate strands of music culture past and present, so it’s no surprise that thought you could compare Gallant to so many other artists making progressive R&B at the moment, he also sounds like absolutely nobody else. He might not have redefined an entire genre yet, but he keeps sounding like he’s got the ability to do it.