Brian Fallon has never made his admiration of Bruce Springsteen a secret. It's that Springsteen sound that has influenced the albums from his day job with The Gaslight Anthem. Titling a song ‘Nobody Wins’ is no doubt a tip of the cap to Springsteen’s unofficial motto, “Nobody wins unless everybody wins.”
Fallon’s latest, a solo project called ‘Painkillers’, picks up the Springsteen torch and runs with it. Immediately ‘A Wonderful Life’ starts and you’re transported to New Jersey. ‘Painkillers’ is reminiscent of the hopeful records that have made up the past decade of Springsteen records (see High Hopes and Working On A Dream). Through all of life’s tough and uncontrollable moments both singers are yearning to see the best of what life has to offer.
Even a song (and album) titled ‘Painkillers’ has a hopeful message:
“And we want love like it was a drug
All we wanted was a little relief
And every heart I held in between
They were painkillers to me
They were painkillers to me”
‘Painkillers’ feels like a relaxed Fallon, going back to The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘’59 Sound’ debut. Shaking whatever shackles he may have felt under The Gaslight Anthem moniker over the past couple albums, Fallon has broken free on ‘Painkillers’ delivering a collection of his best songs in years.
The collection of songs here are beyond Fallon simply strumming solo on a guitar. Instead there is fullness to the songs complete with background vocals that shine through on songs like ‘Rosemary’ and ‘Nobody Wins’.
There is a punk rock Americana feel to this album. After losing his way Fallon seems to be winning once again. And as we learned from The Boss, that means everybody wins.
✓ Inclusion in Best of 2016 Playlist*
Essential tracks: A Wonderful Life, Painkillers, Among Other Foolish Things, Nobody Wins
1."A Wonderful Life" Brian Fallon3:11
2."Painkillers" Fallon, Butch Walker3:06
3."Among Other Foolish Things" Fallon2:59
5."Steve McQueen" Fallon, Dan Wilson3:21
6."Nobody Wins" Fallon, Walker2:48
8."Red Lights" Fallon3:36
9."Long Drives" Fallon3:35
10."Honey Magnolia" Fallon3:29
11."Mojo Hand" Fallon, Walker3:30
12."Open All Night"
*I keep an ongoing playlist in Apple Music where I continually add my favourite albums of the year. I plan to add a note to future reviews if they’ve made the playlist or not. Check out 2016 so far and 2015.