There’s something happening in country music. We’re seeing a shift away from the overly slick, perfectly crafted, well-coiffed ‘Ken doll’ artist that comes complete with formulaic songs that check the same boxes. We’re starting to see heart again. We’re starting to hear passion again. We’re starting to see real- deal, actual country artists emerge again.
That means Ben Gallaher is here at the right time.
If there’s one word that has always been synonymous with country music, that word is authentic, and it doesn’t get more authentic than Gallaher. With a realness in his songs and a unique cigarette and whiskey raspiness to his voice, Ben is the type of artist country music has been missing for far too long. A triple threat singer/songwriter/guitar slinger, Gallaher’s songs are often autobiographical chapters of his own. With a strong reverence for guitar masters and storyteller songs, it’s artists like Brooks & Dunn, Travis Tritt and Vince Gill he considers his musical heroes and judging by his songwriting, it shows.
Case in point, Gallaher’s debut single “Every Small Town.” Co-written with Ash Bowers (Keith Urban, Montgomery Gentry, Randy Houser) and Jim Collins (Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Jason Aldean), “Every Small Town” was written from a real-life experience of grabbing some fast food before a show in Kansas and is nothing short of a sonic blast. Built on that indisputable window down/radio cranked, Telecaster country sound, it’s got everything. It’s got guitars. It’s got an edge. It’s the very definition of the American spirit.
“To me ‘Every Small Town,’ is God, country, family, friends, hard work, and values. Every one of those things is in that song,” Gallaher tells American Songwriter. “I think country music connects with people regardless of what part of life’s journey they’re on. It’s about highs and lows, love and loss, struggles and overcoming. If you ask me, there’s a country song for everything and everyone.”
As inviting as his vocal chops are, Gallaher’s guitar playing is equally as impressive. There’s a big difference between guys who play guitar and guys who are guitar players. Without question, Ben Gallaher is a guitar player. A lover of Fender Telecasters, his arsenal may only go three deep but those three are all he needs to be deadly. Like a high school sweetheart, he’s still in love with the first Tele he ever owned and in all the years since bringing her home, he’s only added two more; one that Fender custom built for him and then his baby, a gold 1988 Fender Custom Shop Telecaster, one of only a hundred ever made.
“My guitar is an extension of who I am as an artist,” Gallaher shares. “If you listen to my solos or intro riffs, I incorporate some of that chicken pickin’ that Brent Mason played on so many awesome records. Especially my solos, you hear it come through, but mine is little more of a distorted tone. It’s got some dirt on it, which is where the edgier, rock feel comes in.”
Currently in the studio with acclaimed producers Mickey Jack Cones (Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett) and Derek George (Randy Houser), Gallaher’s full debut album is due out on Quartz Hill Records later this year.
Photo by David Abbott