Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday April 26th 2017

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“Virginia” In Pensacola

By Shelby Smithey

Born and raised in West Pensacola, singer-songwriter Tanya Gallagher is returning for a special homecoming show in the wake of her new album “Virginia.”

Three years ago, Gallagher moved to Vancouver to pursue a Ph.D. in Forestry, after attending the University of West Florida for her Undergraduate and Masters degrees. Before she moved, Gallagher released “Oh My Love,” a folky solo album full of heartbreak tunes.

Gallagher said that the songs for “Virginia” were written almost entirely in the fall of 2013 and recorded by her good friend and producer Brandon Hoffman in his East Vancouver living room.

“These songs capture a very specific moment in time,” she said. “Word for word they are an honest portrayal of how I felt during that season. It’s not necessarily what we set out to do, but it’s what happened.”

She said that the name “Virginia” was inspired by the last song she wrote for the album.

“I had come back to Pensacola for Christmas 2013, and while I was home, I wrote the title track of the record in the guest room of my parents’ house using my late friend Dave Schelander’s Martin Guitar,” she said. “It sounds weird, but it’s as if Dave whispered that song into my ear. It came pouring out in all of 15 minutes or so.”

The first two tracks from “Virginia” differ in that they are fully produced, unlike any other song she’s released.

“The other five tracks are stripped down acoustic tracks,” she said. “These songs are also much blunter in terms of writing style; I didn’t really hold anything back. That said, I laugh at how desperate and scathing some of the tunes sound now that I’m distanced from those emotions. It just depends on the day I guess.”

Gallagher said that living in Vancouver can sometimes create a different writing experience than in Florida.

“Vancouver winters are quite rainy,” she said. “I find that this creates the perfect backdrop for cozy days spent inside my apartment strumming guitar and ultimately writing songs.”

She’s also realized that since moving to British Columbia, writing has become an outlet to tell her side of things, provide updates on her life, and keep in touch with friends and family.

“Whereas back home I might just call up an old friend for dinner to chat about what’s on my mind, since moving to Vancouver it’s been more of an internalized process which has led to a fairly productive few years of writing,” she said. “I often finish songs and immediately send them to friends and family across the country. It’s my way of saying hello.”

Gallagher’s first experience with releasing music before “Oh My Love” was with her brother-in-law back in 2007.

“We were an indie-acoustic-pop-folk duo known as Baylen,” she said. “That was a 10-song record that we recorded ourselves in Pensacola. It was a super fun first-go at music and recording.”

Gallagher said that there was always music playing at her house when she was growing up.

“My parents are huge music lovers so I think it’s an inherited trait,” she said. “There was always a lot of James Taylor, Creedence Clearwater Revival and old-time country. I’m a big fan of folks like Gregory Alan Isakov, Laura Marling and Ryan Adams.”

Gallagher said that she has been writing songs for as long as she can remember.

“When I was little I wrote lots of poetry that I would sing to myself,” she said. “When I was in high school I picked up a guitar and began putting those lyrics to music. When I was about 15 or so, I started singing and playing at church and bars and restaurants around town. It became a bit of a creative outlet as I was going through school.”

Gallagher said that she is often reminded how music serves as a universal language.

“The fact that people halfway around the globe can stream and listen to each other’s songs is something so special,” she said. “When you write a song that resonates with someone else – that’s the greatest feeling.”

Gallagher’s band at her album release show will feature a handful of Pensacola musicians.

“I’m so happy to call these incredibly talented folks my good friends,” she said. “Ayla Green will be on cello, Ashley Pennewill will be on mandolin, and the unmatchable Billy Howell will be on guitar.”

Gallagher said that she is excited for her trip home and can’t wait to see her friends and family members.

“I’m looking forward to visiting all of my favorite places in Pensacola, she said. “There’s no other place like it. It’s home.”

TANYA GALLAGHER
WHAT: Tanya Gallagher Pensacola Album Release Party
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30
WHERE: The Leisure Club, 1151 Office Woods Dr., Suite A
COST: $10
DETAILS: tanyagallagher.bandcamp.com