It is easy to place BRIAN FALLON in a box where his musical repertoire goes as far as The Gaslight Anthem. But now the New Jersey rocker returns with sophomore debut record – SLEEPWALKERS, which, to be honest, has so many tinges of TGA smothering his solo endeavour.
His signature, musky vocals would be recognisable regardless what instrumentation was behind him, but with Sleepwalkers we are shown a less-grunge, more-upbeat, almost pop-ballad side to Fallon. Still, though, the emotionally-charged lyrics come snarling from his mouth – take Etta James for example: with evident Mae and National Anthem (Handwritten, 2012) residue, his heartfelt execution develops into a stunning burst of passion. The words “I was lost and alone, a million light years from home, it was nobody’s fault but mine” echo in a typically reminiscent way. Piling blame on himself has never been an alien concept, nor has telling the cuttingly honest tales behind his misery through the mode of music.
This delicate approach is continued into the title track, Sleepwalkers, Proof of Life before closing the album with See You on the Other Side. This final track in particular is one of the highlights from the album. As mentioned at the top of this review, it is easy to place Fallon in The Gaslight Anthem box, but for fans of TGA it is often the case of comparing solo to full band – if you were to do this for SYOTOS you would be forgiven for pairing it up with the excellent Blue Jeans and White T-shirts.
Sleepwalkers isn’t just the connecting branch seeing a traditionally rocky artist lose their edge. Not at all. Watson is a steady, polished rock ‘n’ roll journey of avoiding loneliness; packed with smooth guitar riffs and sharp hooks, it is an exploration of traditional TGA sound with his somewhat newly found softer side. The ’59 Sound celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and Sleepwalkers is the perfect accompaniment to show just how versatile Fallon has become over the past decade.