Alt-R&B, if that’s what we’re calling it these days – instead of alternative soul, Alt&B, Emo&B, indie R&B or the rather offensive and reductive PBR&B – seems to retain a few distinct qualities: electronic beats (exquisite and/or brooding), vocals (in the high-to-angelically high range) and echo (from mild to drowning in reverb). When that trifecta is really executed well, you can have the makings of magic. And when that trifecta is executed as well as Chris Gallant (known just as Gallant), you have magic. The Los Angeles-based singer’s mesmerizing voice brings to mind How To Dress Well, although less experimental and heart-on-sleeve and tragic, as well as The Weeknd, but less arrogant and pilled-out and whiny.
“Forfeit” is a dusty, sultry soul groove, buzzing with emotion. “Manhattan” shimmers with a dreamy ambiance, stepped out with hand-clap production and an ever-so-subtle low end. “Sirens” makes you ache by how haunting and sexy it is, with a stuttering echo and drum beats floating as much as his airy and hypnotic voice. And “If It Hurts?” Anchored by a catchy, melancholy guitar riff, brimming with nostalgic angst and enhanced with purple ethereal production, Gallant’s soaring falsetto interludes of “ooohs” and heartfelt chorus of “If it hurts, then baby / you’re all I need, I’m thinking / Reality could make it / make it complete” sounds both forward and retro at the same time, like soundtracking a bumbling romantic gesture from 11th grade or a couple running into each other’s arms in 2020. The production is all from rising star Felix Snow (who has produced for Eve and SZA), and his soundscapes are the perfect compliment for Gallant’s voice. All four of these tracks are from his forthcoming EP “Zebra,” and I can’t wait to see what comes next with these cooks in the kitchen.
||| Stream: “Forfeit,” “If It Hurts,” and “Sirens”
||| Live: Gallant plays the Bootleg on March 30 with Evan Mellows.