Brian Fallon – ‘Local Honey’

By Tom Walsh

When the light dims on the life of a highly successful band, it can leave so many unanswered questions for everyone involved – something that Brian Fallon knows all too well. As The Gaslight Anthem entered a self-imposed “indefinite hiatus”, it has led the singer-songwriter on a journey of introspection on the peculiar day-to-day existence of a former “rock star”.

The tag is something Fallon has never been quite comfortable with. Even in the heyday of The Gaslight Anthem – when they were heralded as the second coming of Bruce Springsteen – Fallon was a shy, unbecoming frontman but had the bonus of possessing a songwriting prowess unsurpassed by many of his generation.

Post-Gaslight, Fallon has honed his elegant storytelling and with the stripped back, effortlessly honest and soul searching ‘Local Honey’, he lays out all his cards on the table. The New Jersey native freely admits that his rockstar days are over and is refreshingly candid as he spells out his regrets, his hopes, and his reservations as a 40-year-old father of two.

Very much a departure from his Gaslight-lite solo offerings of ‘Painkillers’ and ‘Sleepwalkers’, ‘Local Honey’ is borne out of Fallon’s current surroundings. It is eminently more soulful, as the pain, the doubt and, ultimately, the sadness pent-up over the years pours out in some of the most emotional tracks he has penned in years.

Fallon mines his influences of Dylan and Knopfler with soulful offerings such as ’21 Days’ and the beautiful ‘Vincent’. There is the iconography of wide open American roads and classic cars outside of motels because, of course, Fallon remains that hopeless romantic and can still craft those heartaching melodies with which we have fallen in love so many times before.

The delicate lead single ‘You Have Stolen My Heart’ feels like an ode to lost love that you sense could fill the air of chapels. His delicate, trembling vocals are another departure from the usual beaming smile and lovable rogue persona, characteristics associated with his earlier work. They are complemented by the melancholic ‘Lonely For You Only’, a self-deprecating chiding anthem that proves a hidden triumph of the record.

The years spent playing the part of the reluctant superstar rock and roll front man have provided an immense sense of perspective for Fallon. ‘Local Honey’ is a beautiful insight into the psyche of a songwriter battling with his past and present life – the tropes of Jersey girls, blue Mercedes’ and nights by the river, and all that.

Fallon explains that “I just want to tell stories that mean something to me” and, for this quiet genius, they are tales that resonate with us all.

TOM WALSH

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