This London-based band's second album, the follow up to their well received 'Severed', is a blend of sad country soul and classic rock.
Leader, singer and songwriter Felix Bechtolsheimer refers to it as more of a band record than the debut although, in the short documentary about the making of the album, called 'Somewhere In Their Heads', he constantly speaks in the first person and none of the four other band members gets a word in.
Bechtolsheimer says he's happy when people describe the band sound as cinematic. The album was partly recorded in a remote desert studio in Joshua Tree which is probably why 'Paris, Texas' is one film that comes to my mind.
The visuals conjured up by the lyrics are certainly those of Hollywood pictures and probably a road movie since the record documents a world in motion with frequent references to travel and plenty of driving rhythms.
While the debut album was set on cutting ties with the past, 'As I Fell' is an attempt to look forward. This is not always successful as the darker days of the singer's personal history still cast a shadow. And It Shows, for instance, is the first song Bechtolsheimer wrote after kicking his five year addiction to heroin and methadone while Way To Mars documents a dream of escaping a bleak existence of graveyard shifts, sleeping badly, feeling alone and looking like hell.
There's a sinister aspect to Valentine, a song about murderous jealousy ("got a bullet for your lover's chest") and the entreaty in Kathleen to "put your foot on the gas" suggests the singer feels the need to put some distance between the person he was and the man he wants to be.
The most strikingly diverse, and personal, track closes the album. Leuven is a story song about a 1954 train crash in Belgium which Bechtolsheimer's grandfather and brother survived but which claimed the life of 20 German football fans. Powerful string arrangements by Dimitri Scarlato add to the drama of the piece.
One drawback of all this is that Bechtolsheimer does not have a particularly rock'n'roll voice, at least not one with the 'wow' factor of the likes of, say, Eddie Vedder or Jeff Tweedy. Unlike those singers he cannot transform songs into anything truly powerful and memorable. Indeed, Bechtolsheimer often gives the impression that he might be more at home singing soft rock or traditional folk.
'As I Fell' therefore stands as a solid and carefully crafted record albeit one that ultimately promises more than it delivers.
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