Tanya Gallagher – “Virginia” (Review)

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If we’re being honest, singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen. When venturing into this artistic territory, one must be very good to stand out from the pack. Florida native Tanya Gallagher does just that on her new seven track album Virginia. The artist’s sophomore release showcases her songwriting chops as well as her creamy, easy-to-digest vocal.

Virginia seems to be a concept album of sorts, created of Gallagher’s patchwork collection of visits and stints where she found herself in the Mother of States. Over the course of half an hour or so, we accompany Gallagher back to this sentimental location that clearly has given her much musical inspiration despite also coming with heartbreak.

Gallagher opens with the title track “Virginia”, a slow, appropriate lead track that introduces her theme, blatantly declaring “Virginia has stolen my heart” overtop a single guitar melody. The perkier, catchier vibes of tracks like “Southern Soul” established a poppier edge into her overarching folk vibe. Gallagher has the power and passion in her voice to carry upbeat songs like this one, but the ability to not overdo it.

A curious, lovelorn Gallagher emerges mid-album, during “Monterey”, further exploring abandoned romances while directing her production towards the authentic elements of folk like narrative storytelling, strong guitar playing, and a bridge-chorus combination that would do both Paul Simon and Joan Baez proud.

On closer “3002 Miles”, Gallagher almost sounds like she’s trying to mimic Jewel, but the lyrics show an edgier vibe that juxtapose perfectly with the slow strum of the acoustic guitar (“You’ve gotten all you wanted/ I just wanna say fuck you”). It’s here we see Gallagher is not just a cookie-cutter folk singer, but an artist with layers waiting to be unraveled to the listener.

Tanya Gallagher is smart in creating a short and sweet release with Virginia. It leaves the listener wanting more, rather than letting you grow tired of her voice and vision. It sounds like she has some unfinished business in the state of Virginia, though, so a follow up may take us back to this place that’s given her so much to write about. That trip back would be welcomed fully.

Tanya Gallagher’s Virginia will be released on September 30, 2016. In the meantime, stream the title track “Virginia” and “Monterey”, from the artist’s Soundcloud page, below., and visit her website at TanyaGallagher.com.