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June 4, 2013 - Nicholas Terry
Let's talk about an album that has been near and dear to me since it came out last summer. Gaslight Anthem’s “Handwritten” is proof that a band signing to a major label and becoming more popular doesn’t mean the music has to suffer. No this isn’t “Sink or Swim”, it’s not even “The ’59 Sound”, but it is a perfect blend of their styles. I won’t say it’s my favorite album by them, because “Sink or Swim” will always hold that title in my heart. This album stirs up emotions all over the place, and it’s clear that Brian Fallon wrote this album for his audience.
Some albums are written for the artist, some are written for an audience. When he writes on the title track these lyrics you get the image of how a song is written. It’s that kind of sensation that moves me. That intimate way putting one's soul into words onto a page that creates some sort of magic. My favorite writers and musicians have a way of taking the words right out of my mouth. In this past, this discouraged me from writing more. Now it motivates me to work harder at what I love.
“Here, in the dark, I cherish the moonlight I’m in love with the way you’re in love with the night And it travels from heart, to limb, to pen And we waited for sirens that never come And we only write by the moon, every word handwritten And with this pen, I thee wed From my heart to your distress” - from “Handwritten”
“45? opens the album as a rager that instantly takes me back to the opening track (Boomboxes and Dictionaries) on their first album. They’ve perfected that style without losing that passion. It’s Brian’s delivery of his own words that keep me coming back to this band. “Muholland Drive” and “Biloxi Parish” are love songs written only the way he can write them. There’s also enough change ups throughout this record that keep things interesting. “Too Much Blood” is five minute rock ballad that somehow works, and almost makes you feel guilty for the passion he puts into his songs.
“What can I keep for myself if I tell you my hell? What would be left to take to my grave? And what’s left for you, my lover to save? What’s left for only you to take? If I put too much blood on the page” - From “Too Much Blood”
These running themes of words, paper, love are not unique to rock music let alone music in general. It’s done so well that one can’t help but love this band. I will play this band for anyone who wants something new to listen to. I’ve yet to hear someone dismiss them. I get a comparison to The Killers from people who don’t know a lot of music outside of the radio, but let me tell you that Brandon Flowers wishes he could write a song half as good any Gaslight Anthem song.
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