You may not like what I say.
You may not like the way my eyes stay straight.
But I tell the truth.
–John Galgano, “Real Life is Meeting, Pt. 1”
Appearing amidst a whirligig of CDs in that prog annus mirabalis, 2012, John Galgano’s first solo album barely got noticed. And, this is to the great loss of all of us who love beautiful things. For Galgano’s art is of the highest quality, and this CD would be regarded by any sane person as a must-own, prog masterpiece.
From the beginning note to the last word, the CD breathes integrity and a real wholesomeness. It is, clearly, a labor of love. The lyrics, the performances, the packaging. Everything.
Each instrument performs spectacularly. None, though, stand out in terms of quality more than the bass. Indeed, the bass work is nothing less than extraordinary. If there is a failing to this album (and this would be the only one), however, it is that the bass is way too low/quiet in the mix. When I listen to the album, I have to strain to hear the bass–but it’s worth it, as the bass soars in both subtlety and craftsmanship.
But, the highest of the high–that which holds the entire album together–is the combination of the voices of Galgano and Laura Meade. Alone, each is stunning. Galgano has a distinctive voice, and it’s as clear on this solo CD as it is on IZZ albums. He possesses a warm, charismatic, and inviting voice. In part, this is just a gift of nature, but it’s also a result of his integrity. That is, it’s rather clear to any listener that Galgano believes in what he’s singing. But, Galgano is at his best when signing with, around, and next to Meade. Together, they sound like a chorus of the heavenly muses. If these voices are the ones I hear seconds after death, I’ll be confident I’m heading to the right place for eternity.
There are nine tracks, ranging from a minute and a half (bizarrely called “Galgano Bonus Track) to the full-blown epic, “1000.” Common themes–relationships, suffering, depression, redemption–predominate. When Galgano and Meade sing of love, it’s difficult to know if that love is transcendent of earthly. Regardless, it’s good. To be sure, it’s very good.
Nothing Added to nothing
Gives us lots of Nothing
The only thing
The only thing
The only thing
–John Galgano and Laura Meade, “The Only Thing”
Most readers of Progarchy know Galgano as one of the essential parts (and persons–let’s not be too uncouth here!) of the astounding American prog band, IZZ. In recent advertisements and billings, John Galgano solo is presented as “IZZ Lite.” From my listening of/to his excellent solo album, I can’t quite agree with the advertising, but I understand the meaning. Perhaps it might be better to state: Galgano solo is IZZ while the whole band is IZZ completed. Regardless, whether one might call this IZZ or IZZ Lite or IZZ completed, this solo album is an amazing and beautiful piece of art, radiating conviction in every one of its aspects.
Even Galgano’s CD package itself is a thing of beauty. The colors and fonts are tasteful, the image of the front cover, entitled “Cathedral” is quite stunning in a late-1950s Dave Brubeck-artful kind of way. [The title, the inside information reveals, comes from a line in Jewish humanist and existentialist Martin Buber’s, “I and Thou.”] Even the lettering of the lyrics is quite nice. While I love packaging in general, I rarely find anything beyond the actual artwork worth commenting on. Here, though, it’s worth praising. Overall, the packaging, the fonts–everything–is just, well, like the music itself, tasteful. The one thing I don’t get are the three dates subtly in the background: 1945, 1974, 1923. I’m sure these have some kind of meaning, but no explanation is offered.
It would be a crime to all art, all rock, and all prog should this release continue to be barely noticed by the music community. Sadly, I did not know about it until last December when I was playing around a bit at the IZZ website. As soon as I saw it (and the title captivated me, as it has great significance for many of my personal heroes, including T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, and Christopher Dawson), I ordered it. Had I known about it earlier than the last month of the year, I would certainly have included it in my top CD picks of 2012.
I’ve been meaning to write this review for nearly five months now. Finally, here it is.
Order “Real Life is Meeting,” and cherish it. It’s a rare and precious thing, and it deserves every ounce of support we can offer.
Real life is meeting
I have known this house
There is copper in the soil
–John Galgano, “Real Life is Meeting, Pt. II”