Last week saw one of the great storytellers of modern American music release his second solo album. Brian Fallon’s latest album Sleepwalkers is everything you would expect of a solo record from The Gaslight Anthem‘s front man. Like, exactly what you’d expect.
I’ll start by praising Fallon’s voice. From start to end, the vocal deliveries on Sleepwalkers hit all the right notes. Workmanlike but smooth and comforting; weary but hopeful; Brian Fallon’s voice has a wonderfully warm and soothing quality to it.
That talent is exemplified best on ‘Come Wander With Me’ which swings from taught, punchy verses to slick, rolling choruses effortlessly. ‘Etta James’ also allows Fallon to showcase his distinctive voice as he cries out longingly in the choruses and struggles to contain himself during the middle eight.
‘My Name Is The Night (Color Me Black)’ is one of the record’s highlights. The chunky opening riff sets the tone for a song that bares its eighties influences on its sleeve and makes no apologies for being great fun.
I do have a big criticism of Sleepwalkers though, and it is this: at no point does the album branch out to try something new. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely record to listen to, but it quickly becomes clear that Fallon is in his comfort zone and has no intention of stepping outside it.
Most artists use a solo project as an opportunity to try something new or daring; something they could never get away with usually. That doesn’t happen here – Sleepwalkers could have ‘The Gaslight Anthem’ printed on the cover and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
Ultimately then, this album feels like an opportunity missed. I want to see an artist with such a penchant for weaving stories into music using that talent to surprise me and take me somewhere I wasn’t expecting. Instead, it feels like Brian Fallon could have done this album with his eyes closed. In fact, he could have done it while sleepwalking.
Sounds Like… The Gaslight Anthem