Brian Fallon, the front man of the New Jersey Punk Rock band The Gaslight Anthem, is making waves in the Heartland Rock scene with his sophomore solo album Sleepwalkers.
This Jersey Shore, Heartland, Folk Rock and R&B inspired offering sees Fallon exploring love, loss and family values, with an upbeat sensibility worthy of being included in the soundtrack of any American coming of age feature film. An interesting factor weighing over the record is creating the sense of being uplifted and optimistic about life’s trials and tribulations, while speaking honestly on the thoughts and feelings of the people born and raised in the Rust Belt. Some of the stand alone tracks guaranteed to grab your attention include: ‘If Your Prayers Don’t Get to Heaven’ (Track 1), ‘Forget Me Not’ (Track 2) and ‘See You On The Other Side’ (Track 12).
‘If Your Prayers Don’t Get to Heaven’ has a Heartland swinging 60’s Rock N Roll mentality, announcing how Brian’s dedication and affection to his partner is the reason for his persistence to rid them both of the dark clouds hanging over their relationship. The tracks cheery yet packs a punch style resembles in places the Chicago Soul favourite ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’ by Jackie Wilson.
Following the strong opening track to the album, Fallon offers us up ‘Forget Me Not’, a summertime melancholy sound with lyrics exploring the morbid, yet sweetly asked questions of what lovers are to do in the inevitability of each other’s deaths. It almost feels like Brian is reciting a conversation between an elderly couple who are sat in their rocking chairs, sipping whiskey and admiring the trees stretched for miles around in rural America. It’s truly a charming and feel good song with an unshakable ‘Never Forget You’ by The Noisettes vibe.
To finish up this emotionally charged musical endeavour, Fallon opens his heart one more time with the anthemic yet effortlessly beautiful track, ‘See You On The Other Side’. The final offering to the album feels like a heartfelt declaration of undying love. It explores the emotional complexities of a relationship and the fear of losing one another while also denouncing the fear of loss. It teaches us to not allow death to overshadow a relationship so adored and worshiped, but to celebrate it and to never forget it. Its simplicity instrumentally with the poetic storytelling is warm and extremely captivating. Its presence on the album is one that is not easily forgotten and will leave listeners begging for more, especially when performed live.
Sleepwalkers has the appeal of being a great voice for a community that isn’t really heard outside of rural North America. It holds a brilliantly placed balance of power between the up-beat instrumentals and the emotionally juxtaposed lyrical content, which allows listeners to both be uplifted yet pulled back down to earth, depending on how deep you dive into the poetic storytelling.
Sleepwalkers is a pleasant experience with a good blend of emotional vulnerability and strength of will, teamed with some impressive song writing on certain tracks. Its low points come in the form of some very static and repetitive storytelling within select tracks, which at times almost feel a little whiny. Even with its faults, the album is a good instalment to Fallon’s solo debut in 2016, It truly captures a Romanticised depiction of reality that millions of people in and outside of the USA will identify with and enjoy immensely.