Gaslight Anthem's Latest CD Bleeds On-The-Sleeve, Gusto Emotion

Following a brilliant side project, The Horrible Crowes, singer/songwriter Brian Fallon returns with Gaslight Anthem's major label debut, "Handwritten," a big-sounding, high-octane revival

BY: Bonn Garrett

 

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 One of the most interesting songs is track 3, “Here Comes My Man" (not to be confused with the Pixies' radio hit of the 1980s, "Here Comes Your Man"). Fallon immerses himself into the persona of a disparaged girlfriend (or spouse) tangled in the control of the archetypal alpha male. In fact, the song’s ironic twist places the title in juxtaposition with the lyrics. On one side, the song title suggests a lovely relationship between a man and women. The lyrics, however, suggest another. "Let the good night decide who she wants me to find/And I'd never let you drop another tear in my eye," sings Fallon in the song’s opening stanza, his throaty howl and gruff vocal chords remindful of a dry hard-drinking past for an invigorated traveling, fast-talking revivalist. “Here Comes My Man" urges the an abused relationship to relinquish themselves of oppressiveness. Indirectly, it advocates the de-shackling of materialism, blank emotions and encourages true men to seek honor and favor by being true men—soft when need be, understanding always, flexible at the request, and transforming from selfishness to selflessness.

Perhaps it's Fallon's unobtrusive spirituality that understates the power of this record. But it’s also Fallon’s convictions and the understanding of grace that offers a bit of hope. On the second-gear tempo of the sonically textured "Mae," Fallon scorns society's thankless, workaholic ways: "While this city pumps its aching heart/For one more drop of blood/We work our fingers down to dust /While we wait for Kingdom Come/With the radio on." Fallon may place mankind sitting rugged and torn on the curbside with no cigarettes, he questions the power of mercy. "With everything discovered just waiting to be known/What's left for God to teach from His throne? And who will forgive us when He's gone?" asks Fallon in the recording's haunting closer, "National Anthem."

Gaslight's success is bittersweet to fans that caught on in 2006 with the addictively accessible debut, Sink or Swim, Handwritten may find the band exulted as Latter-Day Saints of rock and roll. In an industry fat on the self-indulgence of hip hop, track acts and the digital download dominance of bands fronting mindless teen drama TV series (think Monkees gone wild), The Gaslight Anthem is helping hold the torch. But Fallon would never claim such pompousness. Just listen to Handwritten.

Bonn Garrett is a new addition to the Beliefnet staff. He has launchecd four new magazines in the last decade including a regional music magazine. Ninevolt, which covered anything from alt-country to Zappa . This is his foray into digital. For any comments or suggestions or to simply send him music to consider reviewing, contact him at bgarrett@beliefnetstaff.com .

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Related Topics: Music, Pop, Punk, New Jersey

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