It’s hard to scoff at lesser-known artists (a UoN alumnus, no less) who have toured with big names such as Paul Weller, but Gallery 47’s fourth full-length is more repetitive, forgettable and sometimes downright awkward than his previous effort, Clean – and unfortunately the record’s few saving graces aren’t enough to salvage Adversity Breeds from the sea of irrelevancy.

The record begins abruptly with the melodic ‘Sanity Is Not Statistical’, but Gallery 47 aka Jack Peachey’s almost-tenor and sometimes-squeaky vocals detract from the in-your-face guitars, and although the track is just shy of three minutes its repetitive structure means it feels much longer than this. Second track ‘Analytical & Open’ is better but also suffers from the same tediousness which marks too much of this record. This humdrum – Adversity Breeds’ biggest issue – appears so early that by track three, ‘Cold Fire’, it becomes apparent that the album isn’t going anywhere fast.

“Delightful and easy-listening”

Luckily, directly afterward comes ‘Emigrate’, a charming and simple number which strips the sound sound back to the basics which made Gallery 47’s debut, Fate Is the Law, as delightful and easy-listening as it was. Utilising just enough harmonica to enhance the melody, this is the second-best song on the record.

Track 5, ‘Your Time’, begins with a bizarre mix of sound effects which wouldn’t have been misplaced on Blur’s experimental 13 (really), and seems to promise an interesting new direction for the folk-singer – but, the song soon forgets its set-up and transforms into yet another skippable slow-burner.

“Injects some much-needed fun into the mix”

Fortunately from Adversity Breeds’ self-titled track (a less-immediate ‘Emigrate’) onward the record does improve, but after four average songs and only few which shows signs of promise, it’s arguable that this is too little, too late. ‘Copyright Final’ injects some much-needed fun into the mix, though this is quickly overshadowed by the dark and sinister piano chords and dystopian lyrics (‘Everybody’s got guns, how do you think you’re gonna stop the firing?’) of the brilliant and too-relevant ‘In Odessa’.

‘Mr Baudelaire’ and ‘Leaving Work’ return Adversity Breeds back to the singer-songwriter acoustic guitars of the first few tracks, but both do a better job than most of the songs in the same vein that come before. However, by the end of this latter song the listener is reminded of the repetitive riffs which mark much of the record’s first half, and by the time the forgettable closer ‘Candy Smile’ comes along it feels like it should have already been over.

“Forms good background music”

A horrendous opening aside, much of Adversity Breeds is not bad, simply forgettable, and besides ‘Emigrate’ and ‘In Odessa’ (the latter of which is well worth a listen), forms good background music. The issue is that there is too little of interest here to attract anyone but the most ardent lovers of acoustic folk, and even the fans of this genre should check out Gallery 47’s previous material before pursuing this new studio release.

Matteo Everett

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Image Courtesy of Vents Magazine.

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