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JGT Review: Mitch Gallagher, Foundation

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Lots of people (particularly musicians) know Mitch Gallagher’s name.

That’s because he has written thousands of articles for music industry publications, and he has also written several popular how-to books such as Pro Tools Clinic, Acoustic Design for the Home Studio, and Guitar Tone: Pursuing the Ultimate Guitar Sound. Gallagher is also a highly-visible reviewer of new music products as well as one of the premier interviewers of high-level recording artists… both of those gigs in association with Sweetwater Sound.

As it turns out, Mitch Gallagher is also an accomplished guitarist who somehow found the time between all of his writing and on-camera assignments to record a 5-song EP of all-original material entitled Foundation.

Mitch Gallagher – Foundation

Gallagher’s Foundation EP features a stellar rhythm section comprised of Keith Carlock on drums, Adam Nitti on bass, and Michael Whittaker on keys. He also gets additional soloing support from famed guitarist Carl Verheyen and saxophonist Tyler Summers, with horn arrangements by Nashville’s John Hinchey. The EP was masterfully recorded by studio maven Mark Hornsby at Sweetwater Studios and Ocean Way Nashville. Gallagher handled the producing and mixing duties himself.

On to the music…

Foundation starts things off with a bluesy minor groove that quickly introduces Gallagher playing the melody line over the rhythm section’s rock-solid… foundation. Mitch’s solo is artfully constructed with none of the typical guitar cliches. Following his solo, Michael Whittaker plays an understated, funky, blues-tinged electric piano solo before returning to the melody.

Gallagher, Whittaker, Carlock and Nitti

Naturally Clean builds on a solid groove laid down by Carlock and Nitti. The opening melody is played first by Gallagher, then in harmony with Carl Verheyen. Punctuated by John Hinchey’s tasty horn arrangement, you might think you’re in the middle of a classic Steely Dan tune, especially when Carlock’s drums and Whittaker’s piano are featured. The first solo comes from saxophonist Tyler Summers followed by Gallagher’s tone-soaked guitar, and then an inspired improvisation by Verheyen. Solo encores come next, building the excitement level with some serious chops on display before heading back to the head of the tune.

Guitarist Carl Verheyen in on the sessions

Cascade is somewhat of a mystery to me because it is so different from everything else on this bluesy collection. This tune has a straight-ahead swing feel with a jaunty melody over a somewhat unusual chord progression followed by descending key changes that must have been challenging to solo on. Verheyen solos first this time around, followed by Gallagher.

Finch Food has Gallagher kicking things off with some funky rhythm guitar chords, quickly joined by his soulful rhythm section and horns before introducing an infectious guitar and sax melody that really showcases Gallagher’s compositional skill. This particular tune mixes funk and elements of prog-rock with interesting meter changes sprinkled throughout. This tune features some of Mitch’s best guitar work along with tasty sax and organ solos before reintroducing the main theme.

Mitch Gallagher in the Foundation sessions

White Iris once again shows off Gallagher’s impressive composing chops. This piece not only presents a memorable melody, it also provides a wonderful harmonic progression for his talented bandmates to stretch out on. These are easily some of the most satisfying solos from this fine collection of original songs. Adam Nitti’s bass solo is so good I wanted it to keep going. Tyler Summers’ sax easily negotiates the chord changes to produce a sterling improvisation. Gallagher comes in next with another artfully constructed, refreshingly non-cliche guitar solo comprised of single lines and chords, followed by a typically-tasteful Whittaker piano solo. All-in-all, this tune definitely leaves you wanting more.

We listened to each song several times and the tracks seem to get better with each listen. JGT wishes Mitch great luck with the EP!

Foundation is available at CD Baby and  www.MitchGallagher.com

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