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Brian Fallon - Local Honey (Album Review)

Thursday, 09 April 2020 Written by Huw Baines

Photo: Kelsey Hunter Ayres

‘Local Honey’, Brian Fallon’s third solo LP since cutting ties with the Gaslight Anthem, is his most studied, self-assured collection in some time. Its acoustic palette allows the warmth and gravel of his voice to take a turn in the spotlight, and he duly channels a decade of hurt and life lessons into an expressive all-round performance.

With producer Peter Katis—a former collaborator of everyone from the National to Frightened Rabbit—facilitating a restrained, tasteful atmosphere, Fallon artfully sidesteps the bombast of earlier solo releases ‘Painkillers’ and ‘Sleepwalkers’. Plenty of shots have been fired in his direction in the past over his guileless enthusiasm for classic rock ‘n’ roll moves, but they’d miss the mark by some distance here.

On 21 Days, Fallon falls hard for his subtle side. Originally intended as an upbeat rocker, instead its sparse staging silhouettes a quietly devastating, semi-abstract story of absence. “I miss you most in the morning,” he sings, letting the sentiment land without too much in the way of a push.

Similarly, the violence and pleading of the murder ballad Vincent are empathetically rendered. Fallon holds back, dropping to a near whisper as tape loops and scattered keys fill in the gaps, before allowing himself just a moment of release in the track’s evocative, sepia-tinted bridge.

And yet, there are still moments when ‘Local Honey’ does too much. There are a handful of electronic splashes and diversions into cavernous drums that bleed outside the lines, cluttering the landscape when an even more stripped back arrangement might have given added weight to Fallon’s voice.

An interesting comparison to make is with Simon & Garfunkel’s The Boxer, which casts a long shadow here thanks to its pitch-perfect blend of folksy simplicity and bold, percussive production choices. ‘Local Honey’ wants to have the same effect as a longer piece of stylised narrative music, but its presentation is sometimes overly slick when it could have been more texturally exciting.

Still, these are minor quibbles. Here Fallon has zeroed in on a slate of songs that feel genuine and lived in, laying bare a solemn, isolated seam in his music. He has been writing songs like these since the earliest days of the Gaslight Anthem—take The Navesink Banks from 2007’s ‘Sink or Swim’ for a spin—and appears to have settled on this element of his past as a roadmap for the future.

Brian Fallon Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri January 29 2021 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy 1
Sat January 30 2021 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Sun January 31 2021 - GLASGOW SWG3
Mon February 01 2021 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Wed February 03 2021 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Fri February 05 2021 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Sat February 06 2021 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Sun February 07 2021 - NORWICH Waterfront

Click here to compare & buy Brian Fallon Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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Tue 14 Jan 2020
Brian Fallon To Play Intimate Acoustic London Show Ahead Of 'Local Honey' Release
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