Brian Fallon - Sleepwalkers (Island Records) 2018
Brian Fallon belongs to that stock of songwriters brimming with heart – Dave Hause, Chuck Ragan, Dan Andriano, Frank Turner, Rob Lynch – but few of his peers can claim to match their heart with equal parts soul.
Sleepwalkers is the second full length solo album from Fallon following the announcement of The Gaslight Anthem’s hiatus in 2015. While its predecessor didn’t stray too far from the troubadour folk-punk framework of its peers, Sleepwalkers sees Fallon growing into his sound and pushing the envelope.
Recorded in New Orleans, it’s very much a product of its environment, echoing the sound and soul of the city. Synths and brass instruments feature heavily, the saxophone of the title track in particular adding an uncharacteristically playful flavour of buoyancy which resurfaces time and again throughout the album. Fallon himself is at his most expressive, from the seething whisper of “My Name is the Night” to the soulful screaming of the wonderful “Forget Me Not” with its beautifully simplistic and infectious three-note melody.
It seems like there’s a spring in Fallon’s step these days and it’s a spring that can be heard in much of the music of Sleepwalkers. The recurring lilt of “If Your Prayers Don’t Get to Heaven” – which crops up time and again throughout the album – recalls hints of swing and belies a swagger and sense of satisfaction that’s a welcome new addition to Fallon’s music.