“I couldn’t tell you the circumstances around it, but the song is a snapshot of where I was in June 2020,” says Cole Gallagher in reference to the starkly emotional “Stumbling In The Dark.” “There’s darkness in the song, but there’s beauty and hope, as well.”
COVID-addled 2020 was a period of great strides—and some good luck—for the 21-year-old singer/songwriter from Southern California. That year, Gallagher hammered out a rock-solid set of tunes with a pair of producers, augmented by keyboardist Jon Eldridge, Jimbo Hart and Sadler Vaden of Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit and other Nashville notables. Six of those tracks made it onto his debut EP, The Confluence (Raggy & Balls), due out August 4.
“Making that record saved my life during that time, because there was no escaping the reality of the situation,” says Gallagher. “I’d go on the road with my dad for a while, then I’d come back and sit in my room. I couldn’t leave for the next four or five months until the next thing happened. It was pretty brutal—my grandfather passed away from COVID. But I had this amazing opportunity because of the quarantine. There were all these great musicians, people I’d looked up to my entire life, who were looking for work. What really surprised me was that they liked the music enough to be involved. It was a big shock.”
A product of South Pasadena Music Center & Conservatory, Gallagher was a three-year onstage presence at a local club called the Mixx before making a reconnaissance trip to Nashville with his father, Dan. There, he met Music City indie fixture Tera Lynne Fister at Tootsie’s Lounge. She handed him a guitar one night, Gallagher played an original, and the club’s owner booked him the next day. Another night, he found himself onstage with the house band at Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock ’N’ Roll Steakhouse. His dad captured it on a video he posted on YouTube, which led to a slot at a NAMM after-jam.
“I ran into a lot of people who gave a kid a chance,” says Gallagher. “I was really lucky to run into the people I did. All the stars aligned.”
Back in California, Gallagher linked up with Tustin, Calif., producer Chris Sikora, whose connection to Eldridge led to an album’s worth of material that found its way to seven-time Grammy winner Vance Powell for mixing. He was so impressed with what he heard that he took over as Gallagher’s producer for The Confluence. Aside from “Stumbling In The Dark,” highlights include “Sugarland” (a cover of an unreleased Bruce Springsteen track) and “Chatting Through Steel” (a duet with Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo).
“I’d seen Los Lobos right before quarantine, and I was completely blown away by David’s voice,” says Gallagher, who was admittedly petrified when word came that Hidalgo would join him in the studio. “But if you just talk about the work, suddenly you’re right there with them. It doesn’t matter where you are on the food chain.”
MAGNET is proud to premiere the video for “Stumbling In The Dark.”