Track is first single from sophomore album due later this year
“I’m doing things different this time around. I was a little closed off … now I want to take in more.”
So declares Gallant as the alternative R&B singer-songwriter begins the ramp-up to his sophomore set for Warner Records. Fans are being treated to their first taste of the project through "Sharpest Edges," out today (June 14). The song is the first single from his yet-untitled album slated later this year.
Before listening to the melodic, beat-driven “Sharpest Edges,” reading a sample of its lyrics/refrain reveals part of the difference Gallant references above: “… You’re broken in places that don’t see the light / But that doesn’t stop me from spending the night / You got the sharpest edges I’ve ever seen /And every time my hands get careless, you make me bleed / I’m cut up, down and in between / Cuz you got the sharpest edges I’ve ever seen / Don’t hurt me.”
Gallant attributes the inspiration for the song to an age-old philosophy: there are two sides to every coin. “I had problems with depression for a long time,” he explains in an exclusive interview with Billboard. “Even though you get to choose your own outlook on life, it’s hard sometimes to ignore the bad shit, mistakes you made or the things you could have done better. It’s easier to admit that the world is full of sharp edges—and to make it a goal to have as many close calls as you can.”
It’s a bolder, more open and less self-critical Gallant greeting fans than the one that broke through in 2016 with the critically acclaimed debut album Ology. Anchored by the singles “Skipping Stones” featuring Jhené Aiko and “Weight in Gold” (No. 21 on Billboard’s R&B Songs), the set reached No. 21 on Top R&B Albums and debuted at No. 24 on the Billboard 200. Ology later gave Gallant his first Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Urban Album.
Between then and now, Gallant wrote more than 100 songs to get to where he wanted to be creatively with his next project. “I feel like I’ve done three different albums with three different palettes before this one,” he says. “Going back in eight-month increments, I saw the different vibes that I was messing with, but they were all trying to get to the same idea. That’s a process I never had the opportunity to go through before.”
Gallant has also become more open to the collaboration process. While not ready to reveal specific names yet, he acknowledges working with a lot more producers and artists than on the first album. “I was more insular and analytical then,” he recalls, “thinking and asking a lot of questions. But this time, it’s a lot more about feeling than thinking. That’s a massive shift for me.”
The one constant, Gallant promises, is his emotive falsetto. “It’s still there but I’m playing around with a bunch of different shades performance-wise.”
Between recording sessions, Gallant has been busy releasing other music such as a remix of his sensual R&B track “Gentleman” featuring T-Pain, joining forces with Sebastian on “Run for Me” and last year’s touching ballad “Doesn’t Matter.” Gallant also lent his voice, alongside fellow singer-songwriters Skylar Grey and Jamie N Commons, for a remake of Soul Asylum’s 1993 hit “Runaway Train.” The new “Runaway Train 25” and its video were done to help raise awareness for National Missing Children’s Day and the ongoing search for those still missing around the country.
With upcoming festival performances at Life Is Beautiful (Las Vegas; September) and Afropunk Atlanta (October)—plus a headline tour in the offing—Gallant says that “currently in my head” he’s done with the sophomore project he’s dubbed as R&B pop. “Things are more fluid, healthy and diverse in this genre-blending era,” he notes. “I feel comfortable giving it this label because it means something different than it meant five years ago.”
“Instead of being so critical of myself,” he adds, “I’m exploring more sides of what I’ve wanted to say musically. And for the first time, I think, people will actually see me.”