Brian Fallon is the only artist who regularly makes me cry when I hear a new record for the first time. He is consistently one of the single best songwriters actively working, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of his work is just how much he matures and tightens his music from album to album; from group to group. His third solo album, Local Honey is his most minimal record to date, and arguably the strongest. Each song is a vulnerable, emotional story of Americana and middle-age. It’s been joked about for years, but with Local Honey, Fallon is primed as the natural successor to Bob Dylan and the lighter side of Bruce Springsteen.
Local Honey is the softest album Fallon has ever created. It somehow manages to stand out for someone who has written a little bit of everything, including his solo albums and previous groups, The Gaslight Anthem and The Horrible Crowes. Fallon’s acoustic guitar is intricate, delicate, and speaks volumes more noise than many of the power chords Fallon wrote in his earlier days. Soft drumming and the lacing of piano back the guitar, often with the silence between notes boosting the sound all the more.
The stories told on Local Honey vary from intimate talks from the heart to fictional stories of murder. “When You’re Ready” is a letter to Fallon’s child, prepping them to deal with the struggles of love and offering courage in the face of life’s struggles. “Though I don’t want you to grow up / Cause I don’t want you to leave / When you’re ready to choose someone / Make sure they love you half as much as me.”
“You Have Stolen My Heart”, a piano heavy love song, is less about being in love than it is describing the feeling itself. “I always wondered if I knew you before / I feel like I had enough time on my hands / I know that you’re with me / Still I have this fear / One day, I’ll wake up and you’ll be a dream.”
Other songs aren’t as emotional, but still somehow manage the same results. “Vincent” is a song written from the perspective of a woman named Jolene, who murders her abusive boyfriend and asks her new lover, Vincent, to still love her after what she’s done (“So say that you love me before we both end up in hell / I’m not asking for your forgiveness / I couldn’t run if I wanted to now”). “Horses” is a philosophical musing on religion and life. “And in this life, change comes slowly / There is time to be redeemed / Any lie you told can be forgiven / If you love enough to believe”.
At only eight songs long, Local Honey doesn’t feel short by any means. Each song is a heartfelt tale in one form or another, encapsulating a moment in time with a perfect soundtrack. What it lacks in energy, it makes up for with more emotion and warmth than should be possible. Brian Fallon is a force to be reckoned with, and Local Honey will tug at your heart as much as it lifts it.
by Kyle Schultz