Sweet Insomnia (released October 25, 2019)
As a petty music fan, there’s no greater joy than latching on to a promising new artist, watching him rise to prominence and when the world discovers your little secret, you then get to say
PLAYA YOU LATE WE BEEN ON HIM!
That’s the story of Christopher Joseph Gallant III, an innovative artist who originally caught my ear with his 2014 EP Zebra and then later stepped into the spotlight with 2016’s Ology, a critically celebrated LP that was but criminally underrated by some mainstream R&B fans.
But it’s never too late to hop on that bandwagon.
Gallant has spent the better part of three years trickling out random tracks in preparation for his sophomore return – the appropriately titled Sweet Insomnia.
He doesn’t want y’all sleeping on him anymore.
And it doesn’t take long to realize that Gallant doesn’t stray from his daring brand of R&B. Sweet Insomnia is as dark an ethereal as a
midsummer midfall night’s dream. Gallant’s gentle falsetto bounces between the synths of “Sharpest Edges” while “Crimes” is not much more than keys, finger snaps and Gallant’s alluring songwriting.
“There’s still lies in that smile,” he croons on “Hurt,” proclaiming to his significant other that “You know me the best but you hurt me the worst.” For most of Sweet Insomnia, it’s not the earth-shaking vocals that strike you, it’s the sonic storytelling that drives the emotion home.
The album’s biggest win by far is “Sleep On It,” an acoustic-driven groove that feels plucked from BET’s Midnight Love circa 2003. Trust me, that’s a good thing. “Paper Tulips” is a nice runner-up for the top spot though, another cut that plays very well with his nimble vocals.
Unfortunately for Gallant die-hards, therein lies the biggest flaw with Sweet Insomnia – few songs here measure up to the looseys he’s teased us with over the past few years. Sure, “Compromise” is a solid duet with Sabrina Claudio, sounding almost like a lo-fi steppers anthem, and the witty writing of “Panasonic” is pretty memorable when he admits that he didn’t show his boo as much love as he did his Sega Saturn– too busy playing Virta Fighter, I guess. But not much else has the staying power of tracks like “Doesn’t Matter” or “Gentleman” or “Haha No One Can Hear You,” all of which are conspicuously absent from this set.
Sweet Insomnia‘s cohesive sound and strong writing make it a solid effort, and I’ve gotta show love for any R&B project that brings back interludes (I need a full version of “Forever 21,” stat) but it’s slightly underwhelming when the early appetizers outshine the main course.
Still, if you’re one of the few still snoozing on Gallant, let Sweet Insomnia be your wake-up call.
Best tracks: “Sleep On It,” “Paper Tulips,” “Sharpest Edges”
3.5 stars out of 5