Occasionally I encounter an artist who can do both: create with nuance and heart while also accessing a more scientific, logical part of the brain. It’s not uncommon to see one side rule over the over, but Tanya Gallagher surprises. If you were never told that she has a PhD in Forestry, or that she once interned for NASA, you would think that she’s spent her lifetime honing her musical craft.
“I think people immediately assume there must be this right brain-left brain dichotomy between these two passions, but for me they’re almost symbiotic. I don’t think I could have one without the other,” Gallagher says, so perhaps the artist wants you to hold both of her worlds as you listen to her powerful, sublime vocals slip over groovier and often acoustic-led melodies.
One Hand On My Heart is an introduction to Gallagher’s skills, and lives primarily in a space of Americana, though dips into alt-country and even ends on a pop-tinged ballad. It’s clear that she knows where her genre roots lie, as each convention is met and exceeded. For example, the ever-groovy opener, “Dark Side”, uses staccato banjo to give a fresh energy while a nostalgic americana flavour roots itself to the underlying edge. “Barren Land” marks the mid-point and is unafraid to tether religious imagery to the depth of loss: both of belief systems and a relationship.
But Gallagher can also be playful. There is something endlessly serious about the interweaving melodies and rhythmic draw of “Dolphin in the Snow”, which details the feelings of a Florida-native living in colder climates. Asked in the song whether she skis, Gallagher is left to answer “I’m a dolphin in the snow, I don’t belong”.
Specific in her lyrics, and expansive in her vocal range, Tanya Gallagher is an artist to be reckoned with. She may continue pursuing cartography and working with geographic information in Florida, but if this EP says anything, it’s that her music will carry her far.