"Follow your bliss." --Joseph Campbell
Kevin Galloway was the frontman of Texas' rocking country-soul band Uncle Lucius for more than 12 years. The howling vocalist started the band as a 28-year-old singer/songwriter. After four excellent genre-blending studio albums, the longtime Austin outfit decided to call it a day earlier this Spring. Now, Galloway is sharing The Change, his debut solo album.
It comes after a much-deserved pause from the road, recording sessions and a nose-to-the-grindstone pace that the longtime Uncle Lucius frontman has kept up for more than a decade. The Change, in many respects, marks not only as a defining moment in Galloway's career but as one in life in general. He's now a married man and father to two young children, a two-year-old old and a three-month-old daughter.
"It's really a reflection of where I am. Like anything before, I've tried to be as genuine as possible as I tell my story," Galloway tells Wide Open Country. "I'm in a different place than where I was when Uncle Lucius was started. I've been out on the adventure and trying to come back home."
That hero's journey is loosely what Galloway captures on The Change. Galloway, who's often called the album a "love letter and promise to his newly formed family," recorded the album at EAR Studios in Austin, Texas. Much like with Uncle Lucius, Galloway surrounded himself with a stellar cast of great players.
Former Uncle Lucius bassist and co-founding member Hal Vorpahl and EAR Studios owner James Stevens co-produced the project. Guitarist Doug Strahan (The Good Neighbors), bassist Kevin Smith (Willie Nelson), drummer George Duron (Jon Dee Graham), keyboardist Jonathan Grossman (Uncle Lucius), pedal steel player Kim Deschamps (Cowboy Junkies) and harmonica player Benito "Ace" Acevedo were enlisted for the sessions. The results are a free-flowing and organic vibe that displays a slow and easy mellow tone.
"Hal was the first to come to mind," says Galloway. "He's never produced anything before, but I know his taste in music and seen him work in the studio before. I knew he wouldn't be someone who was going to try to just appease me."
Galloway says that initially, The Change was just going to be an EP, but after a two-day session that saw the newly formed session band knock out five songs, they decided that another session was in order. Even though they'd never played together prior, Galloway and company tapped into a sound marked by a natural and robust aura.
"We gave them all acoustic demos a couple weeks prior," says Galloway. "When they came together, this palette was created. It was kind of there already because of who they are as players, but we knew something special was happening in those moments."
There's an East Texas rust quality to The Change. It's always been in Galloway's hearty powerhouse vocals. It slowly sweats and seeps through a denim button-up. The Change sounds like a laidback weekend morning. It's a nice cup of coffee and the smell of bacon grease sizzling in a frying pan. It's the turning pages of a newspaper and a home slowly waking up. It's a sound dubbed by Vorpahl as being "Gulf Coast Country Soul."
Galloway, who wrote five of nine songs on the album, taps into the facets of his life at home. Even on "You Are So Beautiful," popularized by Joe Cocker, and "Hands on the Wheel," written by Bill Callery and on Nelson's Red Headed Stranger, Galloway delivers performances that feel like home--mainly because they are essential touchstones for Galloway.
"'You Are So Beautiful' was the first song I sang to my newborn son. It was in the hospital and the first that came to mind. It's such a beautiful song and sentiment," says Galloway. He'd do it again when his daughter was born two years later.
"Face in My Mind" is another moment shaped by fatherhood. He'd written it while still in Uncle Lucius and after his son was born. "I was on the road and just thinking of him as a newborn at home. My heart was there but my career had taken me out and away from them," says Galloway.
Songs such as "Miles and Miles" and "We Don't Have to Say a Word," are forged by Galloway's marriage as well.
"When you are sad, rest your head upon my shoulder," Galloway sings on the romantically charged "We Don't Have to Say a Word." As with any healthy relationship, Galloway understands that sometimes you learn when to remain quiet and just be there.
The warbling pedal steel and warm organ and piano of "When The Heart Cries Out" is as strong a moment found on The Change. At its core, it's a slow swaying heart-wrencher that finds Galloway's darkened baritone as lively and expressive as possible. Opening number "Don't It Feel Good To Smile" is a loose and relaxed toe-tapper. It's a sun-kissed sketch that simply feels good.
"I feel like I'm going where my heart is leading," says Galloway. "There's less fear with it. I'm as happy as ever and having a blast with it. Follow your bliss."
The Change is due out August 3 via Nine Mile Records. Through the month of August, Galloway is performing a run of limited full band dates, which you can view below. For more information, click here.
August 3 -- Continental Club -- Austin, Texas
August 4 -- Gruene Hall -- New Braunfels, Texas
August 10 -- Poor David's Pub -- Dallas, Texas
August 11 -- Tavern on Main -- Buda, Texas
August 16 -- The House of FiFi DuBois -- San Angelo, Texas
August 17 -- Hoot's Pub -- Amarillo, Texas
August 18 -- The Blue Light Live -- Lubbock, Texas
August 24 -- Magnolia Motor Lounge -- Fort Worth, Texas
August 25 -- Red Rooster -- Hawkins, Texas
August 31 -- Poodies Hilltop Roadhouse -- Spicewood, Texas
September 1 -- Love & War In Texas -- Plano, Texas
September 8 -- The Big Barn Dosey Doe -- The Woodlands, Texas
September 22 -- Stanley's BBQ -- Tyler, Texas