Brian Fallon – Sleepwalkers

Brian Fallon’s latest album, Sleepwalkers is one of those that I had no idea was about to drop but spotted it on Instagram the day of release. I gave the album a cursory listen, not expecting much as I haven’t been the biggest fan of Brian’s solo stuff (big fan of The Gaslight Anthem). The album is bouncy, sounds much happier than I’d expect from Brian and comes in at a massive 50minutes over 12 songs – The thing doesn’t seem to end!

The first song, If Your Prayers Don’t Get To Heaven, really sets the sound of the album as it opens with finger-clicks and a super bouncy guitar. The drums roll into the same tune and eventually Brian’s vocals enter over the background humming. The first thing to notice about the song is the overwhelming sense of positivity that doesn’t often shine through on other Gaslight or Brian Fallon songs. I generally like to listen to the lyrical content of an album and can often put together an idea (right or wrong) of song content after a few listens. This album is different, I’ve listed to it through probably 15 times and enjoy the sound of the album so much it is distracting. So, I can’t really put together a meaning for If Your Prayers Don’t Get to Heaven, but it is a very nice song to listen to.

As the second song, Forget Me Not, begins I see a missed opportunity to transitions the songs together, but that doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. The song follows the tone set by If Your Prayers Don’t Get to Heaven and begins with a bouncy tune set up with keyboard (I think?) and entering guitar. This time when Brian’s vocals come in, its with a ‘rock n roll’ scream of “STACY!” (Think Bon Jovi) followed by “I’d like to take you to a movie” sung in Brian’s near-perfect, smooth, voice. As the song progresses, each time we hear Stacy’s name it is met with the same scream as the first time and it breaks up the song nicely. It’s a little easier to get the lyrics on this one; written from the perspective of a depressed man it is the story of what might happen if he were to die, how his love Stacy would go on without him and a request to ‘promise me something if you find someone? That you’ll forget me not – Never feel too much. Even if they do all the things that I couldn’t do for you’. Equally, this song could be using death as a metaphor for a relationship breakup driven by the narrator feeling like he is not good enough.

Normally I discuss more than one song in a paragraph but I’ve gone a bit deep above, so I’ll try to jump across a few songs now. The tone of the album changes as it reaches “Etta James”, the fourth song. This is the tone that we are more accustomed to by Brian, particularly on his solo work, with softer vocals over soft guitar and drums. It is sung with a sense of reminiscent misery or defeat, gaining some gruelling passion as Brian’s voice raises to sing “now Etta James, hit that symphony”. A quick google search identifies Etta as a 60’s blues singer which fits the theme of the song; “we sold our souls on the fantasies we found in records and black and white movies”. This tone continues throughout the following song, Her Majesty’s Service, which makes reference to a music motif; “we ain’t kids anymore, but the kids are alright”. Though the mood seems to lift throughout this song it is maintained as relatively sombre through the following song, ‘Proof of Life’.

Things have picked up again at the half way point with ‘Little Nightmares’ bringing in the second half of the album with more of the bouncy melody that kicked off the album. There is something about the way that Brian sings the lyrics “I know you know, I know that there’s something worth holding on to” that is just special. It’s like the lyrics and vocals are both bouncing with the music and it’s just really satisfying. Very cool musical arrangement. We get the chance to enjoy that arrangement again later in the song when Brian sings “and you know that I know you know that I crash the same in tiny little pieces”. The tone remains upbeat until the second last song, “Watson” which recounts a story of ‘the one that got away’. Rounding out the songs, and my analysis of the songs, is “See You On The Other Side”; one of the quieter sadder songs, and probably my favourite. For the only time on the album an acoustic guitar is used to recount a story of a happy couple who understand they’re going to die one day. While the song opens with my favourite lyric of the album “And all my years I’ve wanted someone to die for; so I had a reason I burned” it is the later lyric “And time and love and body aches – I loved you more – But a clock keeps ticking down” that really pulls at the heartstrings.

My review has discussed the tone and mood of the album more than usual and that’s because it is unusual to have such variety in an album. It’s harder to write a positive song than a sad song, but it’s easier to identify with a sad song. I’m thoroughly impressed how Brian has managed to put so much positivity, even if primarily through music, rather than lyrics, into an album and still contrast it with his more traditional stuff. The album feels like it could be a movie, I’m not sure why but it feels like it’s from an era-past and an instant classic.


Matt Power
01 March 2018

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Brian Fallon Sleepwalkers

Artist Brian Fallon
Album Sleepwalkers
Released 19 February 2018
Label Island Records
Tracks 12
Run Time 50 minutes
Genre Americana Punk

Brian Fallon Sleepwalkers