'Local Honey' Review: Brian Fallon blends country and Americana in his most heartfelt and authentic release yet
The former frontman of the celebrated New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem has embraced a mature and stripped-down sound on the new album that really hits home
Mark your calendars for the March 27 release 'Local Honey', the soul-stirring third solo full length from the phenomenally-talented singer-songwriter Brian Fallon. Fallon is best known as the lead singer of the now-defunct New Jersey rock outfit, The Gaslight Anthem, who disbanded in 2015. Although they briefly reunited in 2018 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their seminal 2008 record, 'The '59 Sound', the band will no longer be making music together, and Fallon has since embarked on a successful solo career after five albums with TGA, releasing 'Painkillers' in 2016 and 'Sleepwalkers' in 2018.
When asked about his decision to go solo, Fallon told The Independent, "People will always say, ‘Why are you doing a solo record?’ And I’m like, ‘because I don’t have anything to say with Gaslight’. Those five records, that’s what you got. When the book is over, it’s over. And I have like... four-and-a-half records I’m really proud of." Considering even the revered Bruce Springsteen was one of their biggest admirers, the punk/blues/folk-tinged rock that The Gaslight Anthem churned out in their 10-year stint will be sorely missed. But at least fans can still count on hearing the raspy, heartfelt vocals of Brian Fallon for a few more albums to come.
'Local Honey' showcases a growing authenticity and maturity that's come pretty organically to Fallon. With his rockstar days behind him, he's been taking stock of his life and honing his singer-songwriter craft. “I want people to see where I am now,” Fallon stated in a press release. “I’m 40, I’ve got two kids, a wife, a house —that’s who I am. I’m not really trying to do anything, I’m trying to step away from that. I just want to tell stories and write songs that mean something to me. And if you’re aging the same way I am, then hopefully they mean something to you, too.” So it's no surprise that this new album is more heartfelt, rootsy & introspective than anything Fallon has previously attempted. The 8 compact tracks that comprise 'Local Honey' are stripped-down, warm, true-blue gems, with hints of country, folk, and Americana liberally sprinkled therein.
Album opener 'When You're Ready' melds acoustic guitar, mellow piano, and bottle slide work with some earnest lyrics that set the tone for this album: "In this life, there will be trouble / But you shall overcome... When you're ready to choose someone / Make sure they love you half as much as me." The next track '21 Days' chronicles a story of overcoming addiction, with Fallon referring to the old adage that it takes generally 21 days to break a habit: "21 days till I don't miss you" goes the Elliot Smith-y refrain. 'Vincent' is another lush acoustic number, with some lovely floating strings, detailing the journey of a girl called Jolene who misses her lover. 'I Don't Mind (If I'm with You)' is an exquisite ode to resilience and the relationships that make it all worthwhile, with the sparse arrangement of the drums on this track perfectly complementing the lyrics: "And now the wind's getting colder / And the night's getting cruel / But I don't mind, I don't mind if I'm with you."
'Lonely For You Only' is an earnest, rootsy pledge to a lover that sits astride some interesting chord progressions, and the alliterative title in particular rolls smoothly off Fallon's tongue. 'Horses' is one of the album stand-outs, a beautiful number filled with dreamy hope and optimism with some poetic lyrics: "One day I believe that we'll be carried away by pretty horses / And the night will open wide / We'll stretch our arms and float out in her river / And your life would be my light." 'Hard Feelings' is a soft, tender song that talks about transcending the "hard feelings" we encounter in life, completed by an aching, yearning slide guitar. The album closer, 'You Have Stolen My Heart' is another gorgeous stand-out on this record, with Fallon admitting that this love song was inspired by The Smiths classic, 'Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want'.
Speaking about his latest album, Fallon said, “I think this record is about the process of growing up. I had spent so much time looking backwards and commenting on that life; a lot of older songs were written with rearview mirror commentary. And now that’s just become part of me, it’s made me who I am and now I’m commenting on the current. Every single song here is about right now; this record is 100 percent about the day-to-day. It’s not about these glorious dreams or miserable failures, it’s just about life and how I see it. And I have to think that if this is my life, this is probably a lot of other people’s lives, too.” This is Brian Fallon at his authentic, soul-soaked best, and 'Local Honey' drips and sparkles with a warm, mellow, golden beauty.