Brian Fallon has released the first single “Forget me not”, an impassioned song complete with the punchy guitars and exuberant vocals that made “The ’59 Sound” a modern day classic. The single promotes his upcoming album “Sleepwalkers”.
A review of Brian Fallon’s music invariably includes terms like “classic”, “revival”, “old school”. It’s a blessing a curse for the man that, from the first releases of his band the Gaslight Anthem, earned himself comparisons to some of the most famous singer-songwriters of the past. Fans expected he would replicate the glory days of rock n’ roll’s past. And Fallon succeeded, albeit, perhaps, not in the way that people may have expected.
It’s familiar territory in some sense. But to his credit, Fallon, when not part of the Gaslight Anthem, has made a conscious effort not replicate the sound of his popular band. One could easily imagine the singer could have traded on past success and migrated his band’s fans to his solo pursuits. “Forget me not” is a song clearly written by a man obsessed with the same themes, listening to most of the records he always has, but one that is stubbornly moving forward. It’s Brian Fallon understanding there is a legacy he needs to manage.
Fallon once looked set for a throne once occupied by the likes of Springsteen, Petty or Dylan. It’s an industry obsessed with duplicating successful formulas. However, Fallon truly shines through consistency. Years later, his body of work reads like somewhat of an “American Songbook”.
It’s a songwriter obsessed with the past. Not simply with a retro style. There’s a bittersweet melancholy that enforces many of his songs. And while Dylan could be cruel in songs like “Visions of Johanna”, there is little of that in Fallon’s work. There is a remembrance of the past and the characters that populate it are displayed with longing. The songs invariably end with sins of the past forgiven. Fallon is a romantic, yes, but not an optimist.
There’s an excitement for what the future has to offer for Fallon. There’s the feeling that although little has changed about Fallon’s worldview, he is taking responsability for the quality of his work. After all, this is an artist whose greatest strength is his wonderful consistency.
When the Gaslight Anthem recorded their final album “Get Hurt”, the band, and especially, Fallon, were ready to throw everything onto tape. All the tricks they’d learned in terms of songwriting and recording were piled on to the record, creating a dense, sprawling, brilliant (even if somewhat overlooked) album. Then on his first solo album “Painkillers”, Fallon opted for a simple, straightforward sound that emphasized his greatest strengths, of words and melody. We now wait to see what his choices will be for his newest record.
What’s the verdict? Brian Fallon creates another very well-written, exciting song. The sound will not change the shape of rock n’ roll and it is not aimed to do so. Rather, it is the work of one of the best writers active today. It’s also the work of someone capable of sometimes providing too many quality ideas for his own good, with many left undeveloped towards their full potential. Fallon proves he is someone to depend on. And that is more than anybody can ask for.
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