Painkillers is Brian Fallon’s (better known as the frontman for The Gaslight Anthem) first solo album, and what an album it is! When a member of a beloved band goes solo it can often be a troubling time, both for that person and their fans. However, with Painkillers Brian has managed to do it almost perfectly, with an album that will appeal to fans of his other work (it’s typically Fallon-esque), whilst still remaining its own entity.
By Jane Howkins
Fallon has in the past worked on several side-projects (The Horrible Crowes/Molly and the Zombies) and has released solo demo’s before, but the songs on his proper solo début are different, with a range of genres present. While The Gaslight Anthem was punk meets Bruce Springsteen and The Horrible Crowes were more of a mixture of Tom Waits, Springsteen and Nick Cave, Painkillers seems to veer off towards a more folk and country, singer-songwriter orientated sound. Think Springsteen’s The River/Nebraska meets the stylings of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, and you’re in the right ballpark. However, the album is still very much a Brian Fallon album, with some songs harking back ever-so-slightly to his earlier work.
There’s also a few different tempos at play here, with first single A Wonderful Life being very upbeat and rocky (and not dissimilar to Behold the Hurricane by The Horrible Crowes), whilst songs like Steve McQueen are a throwback to the couple of acoustic songs that The Gaslight Anthem used to put on each album, in particular National Anthem from Handwritten. Nobody Wins is a typical Fallon musing, however Mojo Hand veers off in a funky direction.
For those who have been intently following Fallon’s work (and there’s a fair few of you), three of the songs on here are heavily edited versions of songs that he wrote with semi side-project Molly and the Zombies. It’s great to hear the updated forms of songs Smoke and Red Lights, however the new version of Long Drives does sound slightly over-produced and doesn’t pack the emotional punch that the original version did (we highly recommend you go and check the original out and make the comparison yourselves, it’s on YouTube).
However, that’s the only real complaint about the album, which is proof in itself that Brian Fallon seems unable to put a bad record out, no matter what genre or band he is working in. Recommended tracks include: A Wonderful Life, Nobody Wins, Mojo Hand and Among Other Foolish Things.
Brian Fallon’s album Painkillers was released Friday 11 March 2016