For Tanya Gallagher, the road to releasing her first solo album “Oh My Love,” has taken her from beach bars in Perdido Key to Vancouver and back again. Born and raised in Pensacola, the singer-songwriter will officially debut “Oh My Love” with a live performance and release party on August 1 at the Pensacola Cultural Center.
“It’s something that I wanted to do for a long time,” said Gallagher of her self-funded recording and release process. “It’s one of those things where you put your money where your mouth is. I had to step up to the plate and do it.”
Gallagher pulled from material she’d written in 2007 through as recently as September 2012 for her debut.
The album’s primary themes across its 10 original acoustic-folk tracks —love, failing relationships, returning to your hometown—are experiences common to 20-somethings, but Gallagher articulates them with a clarity and quiet confidence that most people in their early 20s—or of any age, really—aren’t capable of.
The impetus to record came from Gallagher’s unexpected partnership with a singer-songwriter based across the continent. Early last year, Gallagher’s Canadian roommate introduced her to the music of friend and fellow Canadian Leathan Milne. “My ears just started to fall in love,” Gallagher said of the Vancouver artist’s first album.
Gallagher contacted Milne and the two began trading songs for the next six months. Milne came to Pensacola to visit shortly after Gallagher’s August 2012 graduation from UWF with a Master’s degree in Environmental Science. “I asked him what it would take for him to record my CD, and he said, ‘Come to Vancouver’ and I said, ‘I hope you’re being serious!’ and I bought a plane ticket,” Gallagher said.
From Gallagher’s catalog, the pair had over 35 songs to choose from, and they whittled the album’s track listing down from there. “I really respect his work,” she said. “He has really good insight and a really good ear for things.”
Gallagher hired a violinist, pianist and stand-up bass player upon arriving in Vancouver. The group completed the album in three weeks over the Christmas and New Year holidays, with Milne producing.
Milne also helped Gallagher choose the subdued cheating song “Come Home,” admittedly her most risqué to date, as the album’s first single. “I’m happy that’s the first one people get to hear,” she said. “’Fell Apart’ was a really special song to me, but sometimes it’s not always what it means to you… I write them and I let people have their own ways with them.”
Gallagher started writing poems as a child, but didn’t delve into music until the age of 15, when she began singing in church. Over winter break of her senior year of high school, Gallagher taught herself guitar and shortly thereafter joined local band Baylen with her brother-in-law. Baylen made an album in 2007, two years before moves caused the band to dissolve.
Since then, Gallagher has played from 30A to Orange Beach, with regular gigs at The Leisure Club, Peg Leg Pete’s and the Perdido Key Oyster Bar. Gallagher said she has enjoyed “a lot of support from Pensacola,” and is excited about the upcoming album release show, saying, “It’s going to be a really cool Pensacola community event.”
Gallagher began rehearsing “Oh My Love” with local musicians in February, having sought out those whose work she admired, “The musicians who are playing with me are really very talented and are helping to make this album come to life.”
Shortly after the album release concert, Gallagher will leave for Vancouver, where she will begin a Ph.D. Fellowship in forestry at the University of British Columbia. Though she’d like to apply her degree once completed, Gallagher said, “If something happened musically I could see myself going that route. That would be really fun.”
Her first Canadian gig is already set for September, and she hopes to play shows locally whenever she visits Pensacola. While already a bit homesick for the network she’s leaving in her hometown, Gallagher looks back on her musical experiences here happily. Remembering a festival at Angel’s Garden, Gallagher said that while performing, “I looked out and there was a woman I’d never seen before in my life singing every word to my song… It was the coolest feeling ever. I can’t imagine how people who have a roomful of people singing along feel.” After “Oh My Love” is released, Gallagher just might find out.
TANYA GALLAGHER “OH MY LOVE” ALBUM RELEASE CONCERT
WHEN: Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 1
WHERE: Pensacola Cultural Center, 400 S. Jefferson St.
COST: $10, tickets available online and at the door