Peter Gallway—Feels Like Religion

2017, Gallway Bay Music

[iTunes]

Peter Gallway indicates on the cover of this album that it is dedicated to his friend, Laura Nyro, drawing particular inspiration from her 1969 album New York Tendaberry, stating, “Laura’s music changed my life.” Gallway is not given to hyperbole, so it seemed to be a good idea to have a fresh listen to that album, as I’m not sure that I was fully ready to appreciate Laura Nyro all those years ago. New York Tendaberry is a challenging listen because Nyro is constantly pushing the boundaries of her art. The lyrics are emotional, minimalist and impressionistic, sung in a style that is more about the sound than the words, at times rendering them unintelligible. Her voice goes from pure to ragged, ranging from stratospheric whispers to brassy roars, mirrored by the lightest brush of the piano keys to slammed chords. To be sure, it is impressive, but I didn’t really understand how inspiring she truly was before I saw video of her performing her work live. Then “feels like religion” emerged for me as the only way to describe Laura Nyro’s music. Gallway’s passionate and personal regard is expressed beautifully in the first lines of the album, “from high above the street wind swirling your hair/ You sing to the city and it feels like religion.” Some of Gallway’s songs echo some of Nyro’s music. “Lucky I Guess” has a familiar melodic flow, “Roller Coaster,” with its catchy chorus and summer city themes is frequently grounded in New York City references. The last track, “Your House in Order,” echos the contemplative tone and solo piano of the last track of New York Tendaberry. “Longing Last Longer” is inspired by performance artist Penny Arcade (“She’s an artist a true artist, never stopped believing/ Art is observation and imagination”). Although their genres are very different, this line could be applied equally to Penny Arcade and Laura Nyro. It also must be applied to Gallway. His understated style is no less passionate and true. “Tonight At the Fair” captures  an exquisite moment of release and hope amidst the crowd of a street fair. “House of D” captures a boy’s confusion and fascination for the woman calling out to their pimps outside the Women’s House of Detention, “Too young to know the darkness that will enter my soul.” “Eyes of the Stars” sums up a subtle stream of consciousness with the memorable lines, “And if the phone doesn’t ring,/ You’ll know it was me.” If you can be inspired by music, if you understand what it is like for music to change your life, take a look at some Laura Nyro videos and then have a good deep listen to this beautiful album. —Michael Devlin

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