California native and current Nashville resident Don Gallardo bows his newest album, Hickory, in the U.S., an album that drew praise when it was released in England in 2015 (four stars in Mojo) – and why we’re always late to the game with some incredibly fine music is always a mystery to me.  The songwriting and performances on this collection is stellar; a gathering of songs that goes right to the soul and mind, simultaneously.

“Midnight Sounds” and its mournful organ and sax framing kicks the album off in fine, warm style; Mr. Gallardo’s voice is equally weary yet hopeful and immediately embraces you; “Banks Of The Mississippi” again employs the sound of the Hammond B3 with violin and has a slightly more sinister feel, telling tales of love gone awry (“…so much for love…”) and “Ophelia, We Cry” is an old-timey piano driven classic honky-tonk stroll – one noticeable thing is that Don Gallarrdo knows how to balance the storytelling of modern Americana and the feel, the emotion of more traditional country arrangements. “A Cup Of Ran” is slow, elegant in its “pure” country ballad feel with piano, delicate pedal steel sweeps and a cinematic narrative; “Will We Ever Get It Right” has the mix of country and Irish stomper, upbeat and one of the album’s highlights and “Carousel” starts in a Dylanesque manner (complete with harmonica) but picks up speed with the band kicking in.

Thirteen songs, each one telling its own story.  Don Gallardo certainly understand the art of crafting a story-song and threading the songs together to deliver an album that’s “readable”, which I appreciate to no end.  And he’s done it seamlessly with Hickory.  So now that’s it’s available in the United States, it’s time to shine the light on this masterful songwriter.


Hickory is available now