If you have to buy only one CD this year, I can recommend without hesitation that it should be Express music contributor Larry Gallagher's Can I Go Now? And if you buy only 985 CDs this year, make them all Larry Gallagher's Can I Go Now?, so that he will at least come close to breaking even on this, his most recent musical boondoggle. I say this not merely because I am Larry Gallagher, but because, as the title suggests, Gallagher is threatening to abandon the world of recording if there is no glimmer of fiscal feasibility in his future. And that would be a shame, not just for the Larry Gallaghers of this world, but for the general, non-Larry Gallagher public as a whole.
As with his 2003 debut, An Endless Chain of Accidents, Gallagher continues mining the scrapheap of 20th-century music, flitting between styles as diverse as jazz, classical, Indian raga, heavy metal, and torch. In the hands of a lesser artist (shall I mention them by name?), this kind of eclecticism might come across as dilettantish, but Gallagher's touch is consistently light enough to pull it off with aplomb.
Amid the sea of hipsters attempting to divine the musical zeitgeist, Gallagher demonstrates stubborn, quaint dedication to providing actual content. Behind that smartass facade, he works to undermine a few of the dominant delusions of our time with swift detonations of irony and humor. "I'm Sorry for What My People Did to Your People" shines a glaring light on the unspoken confusion that lurks behind the smiley emoticon of political correctness. "I Am Better Than Your God," an equal-opportunity offender, attempts to do the same for the anthropomorphizing tendencies of religious zealots. "Horny Teen Sluts" is a wry response to the fatuous come-ons of porn spam. Over the course of 45 minutes, Gallagher drags you kicking and screaming through a full range of emotions, from heartbreak through aversion, with spine-jarring detours into black humor and even the occasional flash of joy. And if he's not stretching the harmonic boundaries of 21st-century music in every song, he's at least trying a little bit, for chrissakes. A wind quartet, an accordion trio, a theremin, a beat boxer, and a pump organ sound fresh among the more usual suspects.
In this post-world world of ours, it is refreshing to see somebody still cares about good old-fashioned songsmithery. But don't just take my word for it. Buy a couple hundred copies and find out for yourself.
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