Revel in the maturity…
Reviewed by Ian Savage
If you’ve heard of New Jersey’s Brian Fallon, it’s almost inevitably as the frontman of The Gaslight Anthem, the rock/pop/post-hardcore/find-your-own-genre-for-them band who’re currently approaching their tenth anniversary. They’ve been a little off the radar since 2014’s Get Hurt, though, with members exploring solo work… yeah, alright, driving force Fallon’s been off doing his own thing for a couple of years.
In the decade since his band first got an underground following with debut Sink Or Swim, The Gaslight Anthem’s sound matured and mutated from straight-up punk-edged rock through Springsteen/Petty-esque big American pop-rock to almost deliberately diverse (2014’s Get Hurt).
Fallon’s solo output has been equally eclectic; Horrible Crows’ 2011 album was more acoustic-based and lyrically introspective than TGA, and he’s dabbled with Americana/folk with Molly and the Zombies. Sleepwalkers is his second ‘proper’ solo album, following 2016’s Painkiller.
It carries on in a similar vein, with more Motown and soul influence than the four-piece live Anthem line-up might have allowed. There’s barely a distorted guitar to be heard, with organs and acoustics now propping up Fallon’s ever-forceful gritty vocal.
He’s as susceptible to a good four-chord-trick as he’s ever been; some of the songs on Sleepwalkers (‘Her Majesty’s Service’, ‘My Name Is The Night’) would only take a bit of dirt and a more ‘punk’ drummer to belong on The ’59 Sound or Sink Or Swim. That said, the first half of the album has its share of originality, and the closing couple of songs are the kind of genuinely touching stripped-down balladry that it’s perfectly possibly to sink a bottle of wine and cry to.
If you’re a fan of Brian Fallon’s writing, this one’s a given; it’s closer to The Gaslight Anthem’s acoustic-based work than to Horrible Crows or his last solo opus, whilst not being totally a ‘Gaslight-Anthem-minus-the-rock-guys’ album.
If you’ve never heard of Brian Fallon and like the sound of the two tracks premiered on YouTube… well, you won’t be disappointed either. The only people likely to come away from this record dissatisfied are folks waiting for something with the urgency of Sink Or Swim, and there’s a hundred younger bands out there waiting to provide that. Revel in the maturity.
- If Your Prayers Don’t Get To Heaven
- Forget Me Not
- Come Wander With Me
- Etta James
- Her Majesty’s Service
- Proof Of Life
- Little Nightmares
- My Name Is The Night
- See You On The Other Side