Local Record Review: 'Heart Like Mine' by the Fallen Stars
Beat Blvd. is Heard Mentality's weekly review of local releases. If you're an OC musician or band with something new to offer--vinyl single, full-length album, CD, cassette--we want to hear from you! Send copies, along with any photos and PR material, to Beat Blvd., c/o OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste. 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. You can also e-mail us digital downloads at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Schmidt via thefallenstars.com
The Fallen Stars
Heart Like Mine
We apologize for our extended absence here for a bit but when it comes to things like nasty flu-like viruses they tend to do lovely things to the ability to concentrate on music properly. Which would have meant that our appreciation of a song like "Valentine's Day" on this album, even if it was more timely, would have been muddled. Said song, beautifully sung by bassist Tracy Byrnes, is definitely a treat, as is much of Heart Like Mine, the fourth release by these local country-rock stalwarts.
Brynes and her multi-instrumentalist husband Bobbo, the core of the band, duet at many points, with the occasional solo turns by both adding further variety to the overall sound; that they're a veteran band is something you almost sense by implication at this point. There's everything from an ease and accomplishment in the sequencing -- an hour long, the album often feels like a pitch-perfect setlist -- to the overall performances, where nothing is per se surprising but everything punches the right buttons. Bobbo's solos in particular are often spot-on, a bit of flash without crushing the arrangements.
Ultimately, in their performances, appreciation for classic rock as much as classic country and at times their sense of an America where lights are burning dimly in the midst of cold emptiness, the Fallen Stars at their best here, on songs like "Dam" and "What's His Name," call to mind a bit of a peppier riff on the still underrated Walkabouts, perhaps America's most unfairly obscure roots band. If the Byrnes can bring a little of that majesty to local stages in their particular way -- and they do -- then it's all to the good. Plus, a songtitle like "Tequila & Morphine" is just too perfect -- as is "Part Time Cowboy."
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