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In the Post #162: American singer/songwriter Gill Landry begins work on his follow-up to ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’ with a unique PledgeMusic campaign

By on Monday, 24th September 2018 at 12:00 pm

If you’re a regular TGTF visitor, you might have read last year about alt-country singer/songwriter Gill Landry and his brilliant fourth studio album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’.  Almost a year on from its release, that album is still in regular rotation in my own music library, but not one to rest on his laurels, Landry has already begun work on his next recording project. According to a post on his Instagram, this as-yet-unnamed fifth album will be comprised of songs written over the summer in France, in a period of just 4 weeks’ time. With the film noir vibe of ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’ still firmly in mind, a set of new Gill Landry songs steeped in French je ne sais quoi seems a very promising proposition indeed.

With the songwriting swiftly completed, Landry now sets to work on the recording of the album. To this end, he has started a PledgeMusic campaign, which he says he hopes will allow him “to afford the time to take on this task with the care and attention I feel it deserves.” Pledged funds will be used to independently finance the studio time, guest musicians, and mixing expenses for the album, and Landry has an interesting selection of merchandise on offer in return for fan pledges. Aside from his artful and evocative songwriting, Landry is also a skilled photographer and visual artist, and his PledgeMusic store includes handmade block-printed tarot cards, prints of his own original photography, and a handful of other unique items.

You can explore the complete merchandise listing and make a donation to the project on Landry’s PledgeMusic page by clicking this link. But before you do, take a listen to Landry’s personal message from about the new project in the video just below. ICYMI, our two-part interview with Gill Landry from last autumn can be found by clicking here and here. Our complete previous coverage of Landry is collected back this way.


Gill Landry / May and June 2018 English Tour

By on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 at 9:00 am

American singer/songwriter Gill Landry will cross the pond for a handful of live dates in England at the start of summer, following on his recent spring tour of the U.S. west coast. Landry is touring his excellent 2017 album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, but as I heard when I attended his show at San Francisco’s Hotel Utah on the 31st of March, he’s including a strong mix of older songs in his live set as well. You can check out a couple of photos from that show just below, and at the bottom of the page, you’ll find a live video performance of one of my favourite older Gill Landry tunes, ‘Dixie’, courtesy of Ditty TV.

Gill Landry internal 1

Gill Landry internal 2

In addition to the following headline shows, Landry will also appear at the Red Rooster Festival in Suffolk on Friday the first of June. Tickets for the following shows are available now. You can read TGTF’s previous coverage of Gill Landry back through here.

Thursday 31st May 2018 – York Crescent Community Venue
Sunday 3rd June 2018 – Middlesborough Westgarth Social Club
Monday 4th June 2018 – London Old Queens Head
Tuesday 5th June 2018 – Brighton Brunswick Pub


Live Review: Valerie June with Gill Landry at Aladdin Theater, Portland, OR – 9th December 2017

By on Thursday, 14th December 2017 at 2:00 pm

Tennessee alt-country singer Valerie June recently finished a tour of the American West Coast, rounding things off with a two-night stand at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon. Forgetting briefly that Portland has real winter, I travelled north from Tucson to take in her final show. Portland natives found some humour in my situation as I shivered in the queue outside the Aladdin. “At least it’s not raining”, they helpfully pointed out. Still, I was glad to get inside and find a nice spot at the front of the stage in plenty of time for the evening’s opening act, singer/songwriter Gill Landry.

Gill Landry internal

Landry has spent the end of 2017 touring his exquisite fourth album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, which came out in October. Having chatted with him shortly after the release, I was mildly surprised that his set list in Portland only included two of those new songs, ‘Denver Girls’ and ‘The Woman I Love’. Among his older tunes, Landry chose to play the title track from each of his first two records. The bright tone and witty lyrics to ‘Between Piety and Desire’ kept the mood in the room light, while ‘The Ballad of Lawless Soirez’ seemed to make a particularly solid impression on the audience. The limitations of playing an abbreviated support slot were apparent in Landry’s set, but his deep baritone and dry humour were more than enough to overcome them on the night.

Valerie June internal

Headliner Valerie June made a sensational entrance to the stage, attired in sparkling sequins and aqua-colored cowgirl boots, leaving no room for doubt about where her audience’s rapt attention would be focused. But her beguiling stage presence went well beyond the initial visual impression, becoming even more captivating as she switched between playing guitar and deftly plucking away at her ‘baby’ banjo. Her singing voice, while not traditionally ‘pretty’, was by turns strident and sweet, dictated by the character of her songs. June’s expressive range proved itself incredibly broad, working as easily in the slow bluesy drawl of ‘Love You Once Made’ as in the sassy, uptempo rock of ‘Shakedown’. Between songs, she waxed both poetic and philosophical, and her speaking voice was equally hypnotic as she weaved a continuous, free-flowing narrative through her set list.

For her part, June was more forthcoming with songs from her own most recent LP, ‘The Order of Time’, which was released in March. Amazingly, she touched on 9 of its 12 tracks from it in her generous set list. The only notable absence was album opener ‘Long Lonely Road’, and I’ll admit here that I was so dazzled by June’s performance that I didn’t actually miss it until I reviewed the set list after the show. About halfway through the set proper, June treated her audience to a couple of novelties. First was a song called ‘Train Fare’, which she penned for the Blind Boys of Alabama and which features on their recent LP ‘Almost Home’. Then she invited Landry back onstage to join her for a deep dive into her back catalogue, in the form of ‘Rain Dance’, pulled from 2010 EP ‘Valerie June and the Tennessee Express’.

Valerie June internal 3

From there, June lingered on tracks from her 2013 debut long player ‘Pushin’ Against a Stone’, with ‘Tennessee Time’ garnering an especially warm reception from longtime fans in the crowd. Perhaps less well-known was her cover of Velvet Underground’s ‘Oh Sweet Nuthin’, which nonetheless won a few hearts after June related her discovery that their songwriter Lou Reed had become a fan of her music in his final days.

Valerie June internal 2

June’s band, including ‘The Order of Time’ producer Matt Marinelli on bass, was in top-notch form through the entire performance, but she gave them particular time to demonstrate their chops during the encore. After slow-burning versions of ‘If And’ and ‘Astral Plane’, they dug into a cheeky soul cover, ‘I’ve Been Lonely for So Long’, before ending with June’s own gospel-style celebration, ‘Got Soul’.

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I began 2017 in Portland, hearing Gill Landry open for Bear’s Den shortly after the New Year. I ended the year in the same city, seeing Landry for a second time and discovering a new favourite artist, Valerie June, along the way. The symmetry might be superficial, but it illustrates a general process that has led me to some great music, by artists I might never otherwise have heard. I hope to share many more such happy coincidences in 2018. Stay tuned to TGTF in the New Year!


Interview: Gill Landry (Part 2)

By on Wednesday, 15th November 2017 at 11:00 am

If you missed part 1 of TGTF’s interview with Gill Landry, you can find it back here.

After discussing the production of his new album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, Landry touches on the vocals, which were recorded quickly, once he had established the sound he wanted to achieve. “I have a pretty deep voice,” he tells me, in case I hadn’t already noticed. “For most of my career, I’ve keyed everything up as high as I can, for [the] immediacy and intensity that comes with that. But it also loses subtlety and it can definitely lose emotion. So with this one, I brought everything back so that it was closer to my speaking voice.

“I sang [each song] like maybe twice”, he continues. “And that was the take, because I was really feeling it, and [because] I feel like when I get too into re-recording again and again, I start to lose the essence of what I’m saying. Now I’m just worried about technicalities and over-perfection. You know, some of the most beautiful singers in the world bore me to tears. I’m unmoved and I start to think something’s broken in me when I listen, because I’m like, ‘Why do I not feel this? I mean, everything’s perfect.’ And that’s why I don’t feel it, because nothing’s really perfect.” “So”, I ask him, “is it safe for me to assume that when you sing these [songs] live, that’s the kind of take we’re going to get? Essentially, what we hear on the record is what you’ll sing?”

“I think I sing them better live”, he answers without hesitation. “Generally when I record an album, I wrote the songs not too long before. [But] the more you become familiar with them, the better they become and [the better] you become at putting it across. I feel like my singing live is better in many ways because the words, and the feel, and all that are now embedded in me.” I can almost hear him smile over the phone as he talks about a particular favourite. “‘Denver Girls’ is a song I feel like I could sing for years and not get bored of.”

I mention that my parents had liked ‘Denver Girls’ when they listened to it, and Landry laughs. “I just said this the other day, I don’t know if it’s true. But I make ‘adult music’ or I try. Like, there’s kids that dig what I do, but certainly there’s a lot of, I mean, up to octogenarians that are like, ‘Oh, that’s so great.’ I love that.” [I must note, for the record, that my parents are not octogenarians. Yet. -CC]

After talking about that generational shift, we naturally fall into mourning the demise of the album as a format, which seems a particular shame after hearing one as beautiful and cohesive as ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’. “It’s definitely going away”, Landry says. “And we’ll probably have to change with it. Which I’m actually fine with, because there’s a lot of songs that you write that just don’t belong on albums. Like, I wrote half a dozen more that just don’t fit with these. And I’ve got piles from before, and a lot of them are good but they haven’t fit with any specific record.” “That will be your collection of b-sides someday,” I suggest.

“Yeah, I like those. I always loved b-sides. Actually, that’s kind of my favorite thing. I was never really a ‘hit’ guy, which actually says a lot about my writing. I always liked the hidden gems. They’re more subtle, but they’re really powerful. That’s my usual jam.” He laughs. “I just recently kind of realized that maybe that’s why I don’t write any hits. If I had been listening to nothing but hits my whole life, then I’d probably be a completely different writer.

“I’m a slow burner”, he explains. “That’s my game. I’m not here to make a million dollars next year and then quit. Up till I’m dead, I want to be doing this. All the people that I worship and love as artists, I mean, they had hits early in their career that probably helped them have a long career. But it’s the body of work that just doesn’t get old and continues to stay true to their life. That’s always been my aspiration. I would be happy if when I’m 50, I could have 300 people sitting down with me in a room, in any city in this country, enjoying what I’m doing.”

I’m not sure how close Landry is to 50 (and I didn’t ask!), but I suspect that 300 people in a room isn’t an unreasonable goal for him. His upcoming live schedule includes playing support slots in America, Scandinavia, and the UK, with the goal of getting his music out to people who aren’t already familiar. I ask how well that works for him, and he answers candidly: “I personally don’t know. You never can tell, until the next time you come through.”

He mentions the possibility of booking a headline tour next year, possibly with a full band. “It depends,” he says cautiously. “It’s really all about money. At this point, the people that I want to hire cost money, as opposed to, when you’re 21, and it’s your mates and you just go out and it’s all-for-one, Musketeers-style. That’s a great time. Once you’re past 30, you gotta start paying people. And if they’re not busy, they’re hopefully getting paid enough that they’re enjoying their life. So it really has to be worth it, they have to really love your music. There’s only so many tours you can go out and lose your savings on and keep going, period. So, it’s survival.”

Speaking of headline shows, I ask Landry how a solo headline show would be different for him than playing a support slot, as I saw him do back in January. “I talk a lot more,” he says with a laugh. “Which can sound boring, but hopefully it’s not. Since a lot of [my show] is narrative songwriting, there’s a lot of stories. I started this in Sweden, if you want the whole story …” 

Landry continues, “I was in Sweden and I was doing a tour, like 15 shows in these little towns, and I’d never been to Sweden. I did the first gig, and I played through the songs, and it was a good response. They dug it, I played well, all that. But at the end, the promoter was like, ‘Everybody here understands English pretty well, but sung, it’s a bit different. You should talk, tell them what the song [is about]. They’d like that.’ So that whole tour, I mean, I got to the point where I would be talking for like five minutes before I played a three minute song. And it seemed very engaging, and people started commenting on songs, like with some information [that] gave it more depth.

“So, it’s much more personal”, he says of his solo shows, “which I feel like, with these types of songs, because they’re not pop songs, because they are stories in their own way, actually enriches the experience [more] than if I just got up with a band and hit song after song after song. They’re both fine, but I really enjoy the intimacy of solo.” You can get a taste of Landry in a recent solo performance just below, courtesy of One on One Cellar Sessions.

At press time, Gill Landry is on tour in Europe, playing dates in Sweden and Norway supporting The Americans. Readers on the UK side of the pond can see Landry very soon, supporting his Loose Music label mate Ian Felice on a run of UK dates starting on the 22nd of November in Manchester. You can find a complete listing of Landry’s upcoming live shows on his official Web site. TGTF’s previous coverage of Gill Landry is collected through this link. Special thanks to Kevin, who helped to arrange this interview.


Interview: Gill Landry (Part 1)

By on Tuesday, 14th November 2017 at 11:00 am

American alt-country singer/songwriter Gill Landry has kept a steady schedule of live shows and studio appearances since the release of his excellent 4th solo LP ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’ at the beginning of October. He was just coming off a tour of the American West Coast with Rising Appalachia and was enjoying brief period of downtime before hitting the road again when I caught up with him for an enlightening, if somewhat rambling, chat about the new album.

Landry is currently hanging his hat in Los Angeles, which seems at first glance like an odd choice for an artist with clear stylistic leanings toward country and folk. “I’m just kind of over Nashville”, he says, “and this is the first place that grabbed me. I mean, the city itself, [and] the people. I know a lot of people here, and it just felt right. I don’t view anything as permanent, [so] I don’t know how long I’ll stay. That’s how I sort of go through life.”

The Nashville reference goes back to the recording of ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, as Landry explains. “I rented a house in the countryside in a town called White’s Creek, for a month, and I just set up a studio in there. It was in the country, about 20 miles outside of Nashville, so I could be loud, I could play until 4 in the morning, you know?”

Despite the volume of the recording process, the songs on the album are decidedly intimate and reserved in tone, and Landry played most of the instrumental parts himself. “I played everything but the fiddle, drums, and horns. And some keys”, he confirms. But he also taught himself a new instrument in the process of making the new record. “A lot of what brought this [album] together was the pedal steel, which I hadn’t played on a record before. I’ve had it for about five years, but I didn’t really get decent at it until like a year or so before this [record]. I love the sound of it. It’s the glue, I think, it sort of binds it.”

The tangible presence of the pedal steel lends a distinct folk or Americana flavour to ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, but I mention that I still had trouble putting the album squarely into a single genre category. “That’s the way that I feel about it too”, Landry says. “I think genre is really for other people to decide. Because obviously I have my limitations and I have my influences, but I’m not trying to make a folk album. I don’t even know what that means, exactly. I always did like the name alt-country. It’s country-sounding but it’s not mainstream, you know? [But] when you get to a song like ‘Broken Hearts’ or to ‘The Only Game in Town’, [this album] sounds pretty country.”

The vocal harmonies on the record also have a distinctly country twang, though the three female backing vocalists joining Landry aren’t necessarily country singers themselves. I had been particularly taken with the album’s lead single ‘Berlin’, which features a duet in the chorus with Klara Söderberg of Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit. “I met her at a Laura Marling show I was playing in Manchester”, Landry tells me. “That’s how we became pals, or you know, rough pals. And then [later] I was in Sweden, and I just called her up. I said, ‘Hey, you want to sing?’ And I went over to her house and she sang on [‘Berlin’]. She also does the banshee bit on ‘Denver Girls’. She’s an amazing harmony singer,” he says. “She has an amazing voice. Both those girls do.”

Landry’s friend Odessa Jorgensen sings backing vocals on two album tracks, ‘The One Who Won the War’ and ‘Scripted Love’, and TGTF alum Karen Elson sings harmonies in the album versions of ‘Bird in a Cage’ and ‘The Woman I Love’. Being familiar with Elson’s voice, I observe that she might be particularly easy to harmonise with, and Landry concurs. “Oh, yeah, absolutely. [She has] a very specific voice, very supportive. She’s also a great lead singer, it’s just that she has a great voice for harmony, too, I think.”

This discussion allows me to backtrack slightly to Landry’s previous album, a self-titled LP released in 2015, which featured a duet with the aforementioned Laura Marling called ‘Take This Body’. I speculate that Marling’s voice might be a little more difficult to blend with, and Landry laughs. “I think that would be up to Laura, because she has such a strong voice, period. A dynamic voice. I think if she wanted to choose a supporting role in harmony, she could nail it. She’s got a lot of tricks up her sleeve. [But] I really like songs where the harmony voices are distinct, you know?”

We take another moment to chat about ‘Gill Landry’, because its character is, to my ear, very distinct from what Landry has done on ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’. “That one was like a three-year chipping away,” he says, “because I was still in another band and just figuring out what I was doing.” He’s referring to his former role in Americana band Old Crow Medicine Show, but he is emphatic about that band’s influence on his solo work. “I didn’t come from the same place creatively that they do,” he says. “Like, that might as well be like an ex-wife, you know, and it’s informing your new wife, which it should not and can’t. They are separate, in my mind.” I see his point, but I feel compelled to mention that Landry’s solo work isn’t entirely unrelated to Old Crow’s musical style. “It’s not like you made an EDM record or anything”, I quip. Without missing a beat, he replies, “No, that’s my next album.”

We laugh at the idea of Landry writing songs filled with dance beats and synthesisers, but he takes the opportunity to talk about the progression of his songwriting leading into his potential next record. “I write the types of songs that I would want to hear, today, in relation to all the things that I’ve already heard and know. I don’t like beating people over the head with sound, I like being more subtle and seductive. There’s a serious lack of silence in a lot of modern music, which drives me nuts, because it’s like it’s a constant fucking party, and it sort of wears me out. And so, dynamics, I’ve always found crucial. For me, it’s what adds the mood and the feeling. I produced [my] last two [records], which has its learning curve. At the end of every one, you know more than when you started, and you apply it to the next. That comes not only with the production and engineering, but with the writing and arrangements, so I can even see the limits on this one, and I’m looking forward to making another one, immediately. I’m already writing it.”

We segue into talking about the production aspect of ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’. “Mainly, I chose to produce my own records because when you hire a producer, it limits everything,” he explains. “There’s only so much money and there’s only so much time. These days, songwriter albums, you know, it’s not a huge advance from labels, so it limits who you can pick. Then it’s going to be nailed down [to a] particular amount of time, like two weeks [or] a month. And then if the person doesn’t love [the songs] like you love your children, you know, they’ll [only] put in as much time as they’re interested in.”

At this point, he seems to realise his own cynicism. “That’s just how it goes”, he concedes. “So the easy solution is [to] figure out how to record things and make your own record. This is not to speak against producers, because I think [they’re] invaluable. I’d be curious to hear what would have been different about both my last records if I’d hired somebody to do them. They would be completely different things.” He talks specifically about taking extra time to record the aforementioned pedal steel parts on ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’. “I would spend, you know, sometimes hours [on those]. Without a producer, I can sit in my room for hours on end, whereas when you’re in a studio, the clock’s running. I don’t view my [own] time in a monetary sense at all in working on these things.”

Keep an eye on TGTF tomorrow for part 2 of this interview. In the meantime, you can read our previous coverage of Gill Landry right back here.


Album Review: Gill Landry – Love Rides a Dark Horse

By on Wednesday, 4th October 2017 at 12:00 pm

Gill Landry LRADH coverWe at TGTF encountered American folk singer/songwriter Gill Landry earlier this year when he played support for alt-folk duo Bear’s Den. At the time, I was unaware of Landry’s credentials as part of bluegrass collective Old Crow Medicine Show, with whom he won two Grammy awards. Landry has since left the group to focus on his solo work, which includes three previous LPs and a brand new album, titled ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’.

Landry himself has written an extensive press release for ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, which provides unique insight into the inspiration behind this collection of songs. Landry says he found himself at a difficult crossroads, as his departure from Old Crow coincided with the end of a long-term romance. “The future was looking like an exhaustingly long walk through a knee-deep tunnel of shit ending in death,” he explains, “but I wanted to find a light in the darkness. This album is more of a map out of the darkness than an invitation to it.”

The record is concise and tightly woven in its narrative, but its individual songs unfold slowly and deliberately, brimming with sentimentality and heartbreak. Landry avoids becoming entirely maudlin with a generous dose of dry humour in his lyrics and richly expressive instrumental gestures in otherwise straightforward folk rock arrangements. Early single ‘Denver Girls’ takes advantage of Landry’s deep baritone vocal timbre, setting a shadowy tone around the question “if it’s not paradise now, tell me what you’re waiting for / don’t you know, there is no evermore?”

Landry has enlisted a full cadre of collaborators on this album, including female singers Karen Elson and Odessa,, who contribute tangibly to the overall colour of the songs. The refrain of impressive recent single ‘Berlin’ features particularly effective backing harmonies from Klara Soderberg of First Aid Kit, but Landry’s own velvety delivery in the line “after all you put me through, maybe it’s you, maybe it’s you” makes the strongest emotional impact.

Jaded tales of failed romance dominate the body of the tracklisting, most notably slow-burning ballads ‘Broken Hearts’ and ‘Scripted Love’. Landry describes the latter as the centerpiece of the album, as it “reveal(s) characters trapped in scenes they didn’t create as much as rehearsed”. These tender tracks are balanced by the stronger tempo and pervasive brass in ‘The One Who Won the War’, where he sings of “defeated expectations hiding in your pain / like every hopeful dreamer you left screaming in the rain”.

A scattering of lighter moments keeps the album from being altogether grim. Strategically placed in the middle of the sequence, ‘The Only Game in Town’ opens with a gently cynical rejoinder: “we just met / I appreciate your enthusiasm, but don’t fall in love just yet”. Nearer to the end of the album, ‘The Woman I Love’ is both romantic and shrewdly genuine as its protagonist’s lover whispers “get me the fuck out of here” ahead of the song’s deftly harmonised chorus. The album finishes with a pensive moment in the instrumental intro to ‘The Real Deal Died’, which though soft-spoken is biting in its editorial commentary. The song’s mournful lyrics lament the superficiality of the music industry and the loss of true artistry in the ubiquitous quest for commercial success.

Landry unquestionably meets his own high standards of artistry and authenticity with ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’. The record is a beautiful combination of evocative storytelling and aural cinematography, with subtly graceful instrumental elements and Landry’s exquisite baritone hitting their emotional targets throughout. Emerging from the darkness of professional and romantic disillusionment, Gill Landry has created a triumphant album that singularly fits his definition of “dark horse” – “a candidate or competitor about whom little is known, but who unexpectedly wins or succeeds.”


Gill Landry’s fourth solo album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’ is due out on Friday the 6th of October via ATO (U.S.) / Loose Music (UK). Landry will be on tour for the remainder of 2017, supporting Rising Appalachia on the American West Coast before heading to the UK in November with Ian Felice. December will find Landry back in California, Oregon and Washington with Valerie June. A full list of Landry’s live dates can be found on his official Facebook.


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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