The Fallows – Face The Wolves

Coventry quartet the Fallows are ploughing the folk furrow that seems pretty popular these days but I love a bit of quality folk so I was excited by the look and feel of this album when it landed on my doormat. The imagery that the band use is pleasingly sparse and song titles like ‘Break My Bones’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ give you the sensation that this is going to be an authentically satisfying folky goodness. With the opening bars of opening track ‘We Are The Hunted’ things sound promising as it stomps in to life all country and western fiddles and stamped tambourines but then things start to unravel very quickly. There’s a famous saying that normally applies to authors along the lines of “write what you know about” and I’m a firm believer that this rule should also apply to songwriters. So when four lads from Coventry start singing about the Devil and painting images of wild west saloons it becomes instantly hard to engage with. Add to that some overly slick production values and the slightly affected vocals of front man Ross Darby and the Face The Wolves is starting to look like a bit of a letdown.

I’m always keen to give artists a chance though, just in case they ignore the rule of putting their strongest track up front. ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ is fairly standard Indie-pop stuff with the positivity of the Wonder Stuff or James and ‘Better To Burn’ is what would’ve happened if Joshua Tree era U2 had been commissioned to write the theme for an American teen drama. ‘Raining Back Home’ seems to be a heartfelt message that having the same weather as someone else makes you feel less homesick but I can’t help shaking the feeling that the distant land that the band is singing from is Northampton, in which case the weather in Coventry is fairly likely to be pretty similar. I’m sure it’s a metaphor but there just isn’t enough sophistication about these songs to believe that the words are anything but one dimensional. ‘Front Row’ is a highpoint with its jaunty melody and a feel of early Stereophonics tales of mundane, small town life.

Penultimate track ‘Lo and Behold’ again has the feel of a TV show theme (maybe one on gardening this time) and album closer ‘It’s Not Over’ wants to be a whiskey soaked Pogues-esque ballad but there isn’t enough experience, emotion, spirit or bile in the song and that’s where The Fallows fall down for me. I really wanted to like this album but somewhere along the road it seems as though the band have fallen down too many traps. Musically speaking they are spot on but ‘Face The Wolves’ is so overproduced and polished that it ends up sounding more like the Killlers than Mumford & Sons. If this band were a sick child and I were a doctor I would prescribe some serious gigging, some hard living and hard loving before writing a follow up album and when they come to record it, it should be done in one room with as few microphones as possible. But I’m not a doctor so that prescription is technically illegal.

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