Behind the mysterious name of Galen & Paul lies a new duo who are releasing their debut album, Can We Do Tomorrow Another Day? Does new = young? Not so much... Galen is Galen Ayers, the daughter of the brilliant Kevin Ayers, an eccentric Briton who passed away in 2013, co-founder of Soft Machine and a special figure in the English progressive and psychedelic scene in Canterbury at the end of the 60′s and the beginning of the 70′s. Galen is a travelling folkeur who dropped anchor in Greece on the island of Hydra and made her voice heard as early as 2008 as part of the pop duo Siskin, set up with Kirsty Newton, before releasing a solo album, Monument in 2018. Paul is an icon of rock history, immortalised on the cover of London Calling, smashing his Fender Precision bass to the ground. When the Clash disbanded around 1986, Paul Simonon took on a series of projects with varying degrees of involvement. Havana 3a.m. then, more recently, The Good, The Bad & The Queen with Damon Albarn, (the late) Tony Allen and Simon Tong. Most importantly, the former bassist of the Clash spends his time replacing his four-string with paintbrushes, regularly exhibiting his paintings all over the world.
Galen & Paul, Galen Ayers, Paul Simonon - Lonely Town (Official Video)GalenAndPaulVEVO
When these two met, recording an album was not on the agenda, instead they simply collaborate - they discuss, exchange, and cross their pens and voices. “Paradoxically, hours of effort were devoted to simplifying our songs. Less is more”, says Galen Ayers. “Although I’ve collaborated musically with many artists, including Kirsty Newton in our band Siskin, I’ve mostly been a solo artist. But writing with Paul has been one of the highlights of my musical career so far.” For his part, Paul Simonon has also treated writing with dedication and care. “I remember when I was in the Clash, our manager Bernie Rhodes told us that producer Andrew Loog Oldham locked Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in their kitchen and said, “I’m not letting you out until you write a song!” That’s what Galen and I did. We spent every evening writing a new song.”
The history of popular music is littered with these mythical mixed duos whose names light up the faces: Sonny & Cher, Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg, Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris, Les Paul & Mary Ford, She & Him... For Galen & Paul, the comparison is obvious: it’s Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood, so much so that the yin and yang side of their voices evokes the famous duo. Musically speaking, Can We Do Tomorrow Another Day? has the air of a troubadour record. Like a long-distance trip where the islands are styles. Galen Ayers and Paul Simonon brandish a passport blackened with stamps from four continents. Cosmopolitan, even European at heart (they sing in English, Spanish and declare their love for Paris), the album claims a real class in its nonchalance and its street singer side. Mariachi influences, reggae sounds, retro French songs, Spanish pop, cha-cha-cha, tavern atmosphere and rocksteady, everything is included without sounding like a tour operator.
The quality of Can We Do Tomorrow Another Day? is also due to the cast the duo has assembled. The legendary Tony Visconti, known for his work with David Bowie, has created a sober production that highlights the protagonists. As for the musicians, the guitars are driven by Simon Tong, ex-The Verve and The Good, The Bad & The Queen (“My favourite guitarist in the world!” admits Paul Simonon), the keyboards by ex-Big Audio Dynamite Dan Donovan and the drums by Seb Rochford, a brilliant free electron of the English jazz scene for several decades. The icing on the cake is that Damon Albarn of Blur/Gorillaz came to blow in his melodica on several tracks. All this makes this Qobuzissime record even more radiant, warm and a bit retro.