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Artist: Brian Fallon (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Webstore, Spotify, Wikipedia)
On his sophomore full-length Sleepwalkers, Brian Fallon has found his grove as a solo artist with a record that is fresh and new while calling back to his best work with The Gaslight Anthem. Fallon's solo debut Painkillers was a good record but one that felt unsure and uneasy. In a lot of ways, Painkillers was the anti-Gaslight record with its decidedly Americana bent; like there was an intent to create a record that was very different from Fallon's previous band. This wasn't his first non-Gaslight release either. Fallon's other project The Horrible Crowes released their darkly brilliant debut Elsie in 2011, another decidedly un-Gaslight record. While Elsie felt like Fallon trying something new, Painkillers felt like an attempt to break with the past. Sleepwalkers on the other hand feels like a return to form with a new found comfort and confidence from an artist finally getting his footing transitioning from a band to the solo arena. This record just feels right. The songs are catchy, the choruses are big and sweeping, and the lyrics are heartfelt and earnest. And then there's the music. Oh the music! I first heard The Gaslight Anthem in 2010 with the release of American Slang, a record steeped as much in Motown and '60 soul as punk and Bruce Springsteen. It was then that I fell in love with the band and Fallon's voice and songs, always knowing that this man had a great soul album in him. Sleepwalkers is that soul album. Not convinced? Just listen to the record's lead singles "Forget Me Not" and "If Your Prayers Don't Get to Heaven" and tell me that you don't hear the ghosts of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. The thing about Sleepwalkers is that it is a slow burn. Not that it's a record that takes a long time to heat up, but instead it's a record that gets better with age and multiple listens. This isn't an album that you slap on once and immediately know that it is great. The first time around it is good and certainly improves on its predecessor but it isn't great. After the fifth to tenth listen though, that's when its brilliance takes hold and you realize you are experiencing something special. In a modern world of instant gratification, there is something monumentally satisfying about a record that grows on you slowly and methodically and Sleepwalkers does just that.