All In Good Time
For an industry that’s fabled as being the last bastion of maladjusted narcissists, you sure do get to meet a lot of genuinely lovely people in the music biz. So, when I say that Gav Healy is one of the nicest of the nice, it puts him at the top of a pretty tall tree. Not that you have to be nice to make good music, far from it, but it does help attract people to what you’re doing if you’re easy to get along with.
If we have to assign the album a genre, let’s just call it bloody good music that will find a way of speaking to your heart and soul and leave it at that.
It’s a bit of a bloody nuisance for me as a music journo, though, because my stock in trade is controversy and stirring up dissent. And what did Gav Healy give me on that front? Absolutely nothing! I’ve been around his house and rummaged through his bins. Nothing. Nada. Not a skerrick of the good stuff. Damn you, man! Guess I’ll just have to play it straight.
Gav Healy is well known in Perth and around the world as one third of the Irish folk rock trio, The Healys. Feels like the three of them have been around for ever, pleasing crowds and getting people drunk at their shows the world over. Dig into their back story a little bit and you’ll find everything from early departures into metal to recording as the house band for the Vast project with the likes of Something For Kate’s Paul Dempsey. The Healys are master musicians, respected by their peers and loved by their sizeable audience. Try to get through the door at one of their shows and you’ll see what I mean.
Knowing all this, it was a revelation to learn that All In Good Time is Gav Healy’s first solo outing. It feels like we should have heard more from him by now. The reason for this lies in the perennial struggle of the artist with self, trying to answer the question, ‘Am I good enough?’ Speaking about the writing and recording process, Healy said, “I’ve tried putting a solo album together about four or five times now, but they end up on the shelf as I’m very critical of my work.
“The majority of the songs had been written throughout the last 15 years or so, for example, in 2008 I wrote the song ‘13 Years’ after returning back to Ireland to see my Gran before she passed away. The trip affected me a lot more than I had realised and brought up all these memories and emotions, so I penned them down to let it out.”
Fifteen years! Far out, man, it had better be good, eh!
I was a bit worried when I put the needle to the opening groove. There was that beautiful crackle and then, BANG!
Opener, ‘Hold On’ hits with a punch that Healy himself describes as, “like jumping off a cliff.” Once it settles down we’re into a mid-paced rocker with a chorus that floats above what sounds like a choir of children, which turns out to be Healy’s sons, Connor and Rhys, who helped out Dad with the recording in his home studio in the Swan Valley. ‘Hold On’ is rather beautiful with its melancholy references to the passing of time, regret and hanging in there. It may be the opening track of an album that was 15 years in the making, but it has that of-the-moment feeling that will bring listeners back to it time and again.
After that, the influences range from Healy’s folky Irish heritage to 70s influenced pop rockers like, ‘Stuck In My Head’, which frolics along at a rate of knots and has a Woo oo oo oo refrain that Bowie would be proud of. In fact, thinking about it, Healy stole the guitars on this one from Mick Ronson as well. Feck, it’s good!
All In Good Time pretty much defies being pinned down to any particular genre. I suggested to Healy that he’d managed to produce an album that sits nicely in the adult contemporary rock category, without bringing the cheese, and it was the only time during our conversation when he got anywhere close to prickly, (mildly) retorting with, “I write so many different styles of music so my main focus was to create an uplifting, cohesive album. I didn’t intentionally set out to create a contemporary rock album, I just wanted an album with songs that sat well together.”
Fair call. Artists rarely care how their music gets categorised, anyway, it’s an irrelevance that would stifle the creative process if you thought about it too much. In Gav Healy’s case it’s a choice that has allowed him to compile eight songs that have their own integrity without being constrained by musical influences and thoughts of how the songs might be received or categorised. If we have to assign the album a genre, let’s just call it bloody good music that will find a way of speaking to your heart and soul and leave it at that.
Speaking about All In Good Time, Healy told Around The Sound that he’d originally had 25 songs that he was considering for the album, and that he “had this grand idea of releasing a huge first album, but lockdown ended pretty quickly for us here in WA and I realised it was too much work for me to take on.” So, COVID giveth and COVID taketh away, because, were it not for the enforced pause in his other musical interests, Healy would probably still be agonising over All In Good Time; but if we hadn’t had such a farsighted and beneficent leader as Commissar McGowan, we may well have had double the number of tracks, maybe even more. Which is a bit of a bummer, because when you get to the end of the closer, ‘All In Good Time’, your first instinct is to turn the record over and start it again. Part of me wishes there was a second disc, because this one is so good. Damn you Mark McGowan!
If you need any more convincing that All In Good Time is an album you should be buying, take it from Healy himself. Asked why he’d taken so long to come up with the solo goods, he had this to say: “Aside from being very critical of myself, I think I put my original music on hold while I was busy raising my young family and I have no regrets at all; I’m a family man and they come first. Now that my boys are young men, I have a bit more time to myself. It feels really good to get back into writing and performing original material again. I do love the companionship of performing with my brothers, but it is nice to sail my own ship for a change.”
Told you he was a nice bloke, didn’t I?
Gav Healy will launch All In Good Time with a livestream on Sunday 18 October, the chosen means of reaching out to his audience being as much a nod to his international fans as well as to the strange times we’re living in. Event details here.
You can listen to All In Good Time on Spotify.