Chris and Gileah’s self-titled debut evokes laying in the grass on a summer’s night, staring at the moon and the stars, and contemplating the twists and turns your life has taken. With poetic introspection, raw emotional candor, breathtaking harmonies, sweeping grandeur, and pastoral folksiness, Chris and Gileah (The Love Library) tackles weighty topics such as the promise of youth yielding to the demands of adulthood, marriage, depression, and sweet love.
It’s both haunting and comforting—it’s an album of bold contrasts born from one profound incongruity: It was never meant to happen but it was also inevitable.
The backstory is that Chris and Gileah have been married for a decade, and both are esteemed solo artists with impressive careers. Chris was discovered through the Myspace craze of harvesting young talent, and found himself catapulted into the world of big record deals, nonstop national tours, and co-write sessions with Nashville’s finest hit makers. Gileah is a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter who has been featured in such magazines as Paste and Relevant.
After they married, Chris made a big decision. “I quit music, my priorities shifted,” he says today. “I had a great label and so many opportunities, but I felt a commitment to be married and be there for my daughter. I didn’t want to be that guy that came back in time for his daughter’s birth, and then just went back out on the road.”
Throughout the rollercoaster ride of Chris’s career, Gileah, a prodigious songwriter, remained an active and prolific artist. “It was a strange time,” she confides. “I was doing what I had always done as an artist, but here I was with a baby watching Chris’s career. It was complicated. I was so proud of him but, still, there was a struggle within me.”
The next chapter saw Chris working in the family business and Gileah doing what she always did, writing songs. Then, one fateful day, there was a twist in the plot.
Gileah was writing on the piano in the living room when Chris passed by. “I said to him, ‘sing this verse for me,’” Gileah says playfully. “He did and it was like ‘oooohhhh’, it was like an angel singing!”
That song became the dreamy, “Love On This Island,” one of many standouts on Chris and Gileah. “Gileah wrote all these songs,” Chris reveals. “But I feel like they are my songs. ‘Love On This Island’ was about her watching me grapple with depression.” Gileah adds: “They are your songs, you were the muse.”
The album is jeweled with reflective gems on day-to-day living, and each one is prismatic and earnest, capturing the emotional complexity of couplehood. “We’re not above bad seasons, but we love each other and that keeps us going,” Gileah says.
“Map In My Heart” recalls the duo’s relationship journey with the sweet longing of the harmony vocals perfectly evoking young love nostalgia. And “Stay Love” is a majestic “us against the world” slow burn anthem.
An essential part of the Chris and Gileah family is producer/writer/multi-instrumentalist Allen Salmon who produced Chris and Gileah and contributed his multi-instrumentalist talents to the project. Chris and Allen first worked together during co-writing sessions back when Chris had his record deal, later on Allen worked with Gileah on her solo projects.
Thinking back, Gileah says with a good-natured laugh: “I guess I feel like I caught that big fish by luring Chris back. I didn’t think he would sing again, and I missed that spark.” Chris pauses pensively: “When I hear the album, I just feel like it adds so much depth to our life, to our family, it’s real. It’s made my life better.”