Brian Fallon (photo courtesy of the artist, PR)
For more than a decade, Brian Fallon's band, the Gaslight Anthem, was one of the preeminent New Jersey bands. They followed a similar path carved by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Misfits and others.
Over the course of five studio albums, Fallon, the band's singer, songwriter and guitarist, has been the Gaslight Anthem's voice. But, after their 2014 album, Get Hurt, Fallon and his bandmates —Alex Rosamilia, Benny Horowitz, Alex Levine — decided to take a break. This downtime afforded the Red Bank-born, Hackettstown-bred Fallon, 38, the opportunity to test solo waters, which he did with 2016’s, Painkillers.
Now, two years later, Fallon is back with his second album, Sleepwalkers. It finds Fallon, a father now, locked in the firm grip of his late thirties. A writer who looks within himself for subject matter, Fallon is inspired by these new situations. He is not afraid to write about topics that might be darker or heavier and he's able to wrap serious fare in melodies that exude positivity.
In fact, it’s the melodies that make Fallon’s songs instantly relatable. They are anthems, brimming with Jersey pride, attitude, and moxie: relationship songs, songs of longing, songs of passion, and songs of desire. They are rich songs that speak for young adults and those young at heart.
Stylistically, Sleepwalkers embraces heavy doses of soul and early rock and roll. The opening number, “If Your Prayers Don’t Get To Heaven,” is a vintage, Motown-inspired soul stomper. “Forget Me Not” is an infectious rocker. Both tunes are hand-clapping, finger-snapping doses of "party rock." When Fallon addresses the past, as he does in “Etta James,” he reminisces with gut-wrenching passion.
Musically, Fallon adjusts tempo and style throughout the album. The title track is treated with early '60s rock and roll saxophone. A grungy guitar riff introduces “My Name Is The Night (Color Me Black).” A mid-tempo power ballad, "Watson," features Badfinger-like slide guitar. The sentimental “See You On The Other Side" deals with growing older and dying and ends the album on an acoustic note.
Singing passionate songs that an ordinary person can relate to, Fallon has carved out his own niche alongside other street-smart, city-bred artits like Jesse Malin and the Hold Steady's Craig Finn. Sleepwalkers not only reinforces Fallon’s talent, but it showcases his adaptability to aging and maturity as he refocuses his personal goals and decides what of the past is worth salvaging.
An FUV Live session with Brian Fallon airs on Monday, February 12, at 8 p.m., EST, on 90.7FM, also available on demand.