Somewhere between the beginning of this record and the end of “Miles Davis & The Cool,” it’s halfway point, I was blindsided with the realization I was listening to my favourite album of 2008. The second full length from Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem has resonated even more intensely since that initial discovery – a lasting power granted by the record’s honesty and heart.
This is bar band punk rock, stripped down and soaked in a passion that’s apparent in every musical department, from Brian Fallon’s reverb-soaked vocals to the twangy high-end rhythm guitar that shimmers in simplicity. The record offers a fairly eclectic list of cuts, from the bouncy, dance-inducing opener “Great Expectations” and “Casanova, Baby,” to the country-tinged “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” and punk-infused “The Patient Ferris Wheel.” Though each song carries a fairly distinct attitude and relayed emotion, there are a number of consistencies that span the album in its entirety.
The beautiful thing is that all of these consistencies are all welcome. Fallon’s lyrics sing so true you’d swear you could smell the whiskey on his breath from wherever you might be listening. That, along with his very simple narrative style that uses precise diction and few wasted words to relay stories of love, loss, and contemplation, creates a vocal performance that not only leads, but almost carries the listener throughout the 12 offered cuts.
Present in throughout the record are hints of influence from Motown, Bruce Springsteen, and mid-nineties melodic punk, none of which are hurting Gaslight’s cause. Helping these influences sit more at home is an extremely warm recording sound that basks in natural nuances that give the record the soul reminiscent of the records to which the band is clearly paying tribute.
Mashing up elements from the past few decades into a package that breathes entirely on its own makes this record very special, and I’m betting the band is extremely proud of that. Every chunk of this record feels like it belongs – every verse, every chorus, every guitar lead, and for that, it’s hard for me to argue this is anything but a perfect album. Though I’m writing this review after an already astonishing amount of praise has been directed at this record, I’ll gladly offer my assertion that every bit of it is deserved. Though music has indeed changed since 1959, what makes music great hasn’t, and what makes music great is abundant on The ’59 Sound. [ END ]
01. Great Expectations
02. The ’59 Sound
03. Old White Lincoln
04. High Lonesome
05. Film Noir
06. Miles Davis & The Cool
07. The Patient Ferris Wheel
08. Casanova, Baby!
09. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
10. Meet Me By The River’s Edge
11. Here’s Looking At You, Kid
12. The Backseat
Run Time: 41:33