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Brian Fallon - Night Divine (Album Review)

Thursday, 25 November 2021 Written by Jacob Brookman

‘Night Divine’ is a new collection of hymns played by former Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon, and released in time for Christmas—10 tracks played acoustically featuring favourites such as O Holy Night, The First Noel and Silent Night. It presents an opportunity for Fallon to delve into his Christian faith and display his folk arrangement chops alongside a glorious, some-might-say otherworldly, lack of imagination.

Almost every track on this album sounds like a good pub musician’s take on someone else. Amazing Grace is a slow-build grumble that recalls the far more powerful and meaningful Hurt by Johnny Cash, itself an example of innovative musical reinterpretation.

O Holy Night is a sort of crooned cabaret version of the French carol. The song is beautiful, but we knew that already, and one can’t help but feel that in other hands this track would be sweeter, more moving and, put simply, more interesting and elevating.

Then you have tracks like Virgin Mary Had One Son and The Blessing, both of which sound like budget versions of Mumford & Sons.

This is easy music recorded to close out American made-for-TV movies. It is almost entirely risk free, milquetoast and surprisingly shallow, given the subject matter. It’s hard to see what the value of the album is, other than to be added to Christmas playlists in Midwestern department stores.

If there is satisfaction to be taken from ‘Night Divine’ it is in the quality of the recordings and the discipline of the arrangements. While Fallon sometimes inspires a cringe, it could definitely be way worse, and though boring, the instrumentation is rarely clunking or wrong-headed. He is clearly a singer who takes his craft very seriously…maybe too seriously. Either way, this one is for Gaslight Anthem true believers only. If you really want to hear this music over Christmas, you might as well go and hear it live in a church.

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