Brian Fallon – ‘Sleepwalkers’ Review

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The Gaslight Anthem frontman's second solo album sees him take a journey round the UK

Brian Fallon is – in the best possible way – the cosy comfort blankie of modern American guitar music. The erstwhile frontman of The Gaslight Anthem can always be relied upon for a hefty happy hour serving of anthemic rock’n’roll tunes that sound best crackling out of the speakers of a classic car or the jukebox of a dive bar, each pinned down by a voice made of gravel, broken glass and your favourite busted denim jacket.

‘Sleepwalkers’ is his second solo offering following 2016’s ‘Painkillers’ and though it’s hard to track evolution when you’ve a voice that distinctive, it’s true that Fallon has experimented with more than just heartland rock and alt-country here. Opener ‘If Your Prayers Don’t Get To Heaven’ has a bounce lifted straight from the Motown sound while ‘Etta James’ – rather unsurprisingly – shares a slowburning intimacy with 1960s soul classics, with Fallon paying emotional tribute to the late, great singer of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’.

Fallon’s longstanding love of British bands such as The Clash is no secret, but on ‘Her Majesty’s Service’ he’s jangling like The Kinks and namechecking The Rolling Stones and the Queen like he’s just been on a big red double decker bus tour of London. After singing about so much Americana for the past decade, it seems that he’s now had to cross the Atlantic in search of fresh geography to mine. There’s more support for the UK tourist board on ‘Watson’, where he mulls over the joys of Angel tube station, the Thames and quotes the Magnetic Fields dreamy ‘All The Umbrellas In London’, while ‘Neptune’ chugs along like The Zombies by way of The Jam. Even so, Fallon’s New Jersey growl means his British invasion will always sound more like the American dream.