Brian Fallon's 'Local Honey' is born into a strange world. With millions of people across the world locked down in their homes, with Bob Dylan releasing warbling musings running to the 17-minute mark, and a rolling 24-hour news storm with little to say but ever more fear-mongering ways of saying it. We could use a little familiarity and a little hope. 'Local Honey' has it.
At times, Fallon now channels more of Dylan than Dylan himself can. The times are no longer a-changin’. Things have changed. Brian Fallon, the angry young street punk is no longer living in the past, in The Gaslight Anthem’s world of old white Lincolns, teenage angst, and record machines. Older, wiser, with wife and kids, this third solo record sees the New Jersey native at his most comfortable.
He’s shaken off the shackles of the Springsteen comparisons. Unafraid to experiment with the styles of the music he loves, ‘When You’re Ready’ opens ‘Local Honey’ with a hearty slice of Americana. ‘Lonely For You Only’ oozes 60s pop with a Lennon/McCartney melody and a throwback to how music used to be. At all other times, Fallon is forward-looking. This record is firmly rooted in the present and feels oddly comforting in this crazy world.
In a month when the world said goodbye to bonafide storytelling legend Kenny Rodgers, Fallon comes as close as anyone to creating a character-driven ballad of the type Rodgers made his own. ‘Vincent’ is one of those tracks, like ‘Coward of the County’ or ‘Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town’, that packs a punch. Performed from the point of view of the abused partner, it’s a tale of escapism and love. Thematically, many country artists have ploughed the furrow, not least The Dixie Chicks on ‘Goodbye Earl’ but somehow Fallon wraps a gravelly vocal around the country tropes in 6/8 time and creates something fresh.
At only 8 tracks, and just over half-an-hour, ‘Local Honey’ leaves you craving more. It closes with the beautiful ‘You Have Stolen My Heart’. If you’re new to the work of Brian Fallon, he may just have done so. If you’ve grown up and grown older in the company of this talent, then he’s had it since the first note of that first song you heard.