Here's our verdict on the debut solo outing from The Gaslight Anthem mainman.
For a band whose songs were famous for their fire and life, romance and redemption, it was hard watching The Gaslight Anthem become ever more jaded; culminating in the virtual flatline of 2014’s ‘Get Hurt’. Last summer’s hiatus was a smart move and on frontman Brian Fallon’s first solo foray since, it’s heartening to see some of the old spark present and correct.
In the main, ‘Painkillers’ sounds like the work of a man who’s learned how to smile again – from the opening, optimistic stomp of ‘A Wonderful Life’ to the barroom hoedown of ‘Smoke’. Yet even on the joyous sounds of ‘Rosemary’ he’s still slipping in snippets of sadness (“I’m just so tired in the empty sheets I sleep beside”). The wide-eyed wonder and nostalgia has returned though; on the finger-plucking campfire acoustics of ‘Steve McQueen’ and country-dipped ‘Long Drives’. It feels natural and unforced this time, too.
Though nowhere near the monolithic, bottled lightning of ‘The ’59 Sound’, this is a return to the Brian Fallon the rock world fell trucker caps over Chuck Taylors in love with. If his old charges took a wrong turn or two towards the end there, this solo voyage should at least set their protagonist back on the right path.
This review originally appeared in Issue 211 of Rock Sound. Want the whole magazine? You can...