This Charming Man
Every Little Secret, Suburban House Records 2011
This Charming Man is the rarest of things in the digital age; so obscure as to barely exist. There’s scant information on the band available online. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. It means there aren’t a bunch of other reviews that’ll pop up when their name is googled.
This Charming Man was a short lived outfit formed in 2005, fronted by Brian Fallon and eventually evolved into The Gaslight Anthem. Fallon along with Michael Volpe, Chris Clementi and Mike Leboeuf made a glorious racket for just a little while, but the songs they produced are remarkable and hard to ignore.
The music on this 6 song release leans toward the noisy and aggressive. The lyrics are unexpected in as much as their smart, thoughtful and wrought with emotion that never becomes trite. Lead vocalist Brian Fallon’s voice warbles as he hold longer notes and it’s endearing. There’s no doubting his sincerity as he laments painful relationships that have lingered past their prime.
“Cut the Rope (Before it Hangs us Both)” is hands down the stand out track. Distance has taxed the emotions of all involved and raw emotion is all that’s left. The singer advises “Take a deep breath and close your eyes for a while.” But this offers only the briefest moments of respite. The song concludes with someone waiting “Every night just in case you call.” The strength required to “Cut the Rope” has yet to be summoned, even if it is understood this is what’s required in order to survive.
“Sweet Delta Blues” like any song about the blues is about loss and desire. Fallon is haunted by a relationship and the way it ended. Fallon’s a romantic and well acquainted with personal torment. Usually this sort of honest emotional self examination comes off as overly personal and uncomfortably confessional. But in the hands of This Charming Man this sort of honesty only fuels the anguish delivered in the music. There is a wild desperation to exorcise these emotions and if sweating them out through this musical quest for relief is the only way out, then so be it. Most men this honest sound emasculated.
This Charming Man is empowered and emboldened by allowing themselves to be this honest. All of their happiness lies in the past and hope is a distant point they are aiming for on the horizon. Hopefully they will find peace along the way.