Fans tend to tout Brian Fallon as punk rock's very own Bruce Springsteen, with songs that split the difference between the Boss' heartland rock and New Jersey's 21st century punk revival. The Springsteen similarities don't stop with Elsie, the first release from Fallon's Horrible Crowes side project, but they're less evident; if anything, these songs sound less like the product of Born to Run-era E Street Band and more like Springsteen's solo ruminations circa Nebraska. The music is smoky and slow-moving, with sparse, acoustic-heavy arrangements replacing the Gaslight Anthem's tattooed electric stomp. Of course, everything is filtered through Fallon's punk rock instincts, meaning many of the tunes begin as ballads before building themselves into something louder, with Fallon switching from a rumbling baritone to a gritty semi-scream. The Gaslight Anthem's guitar tech, Ian Perkins, handles bass and slide guitar, and a handful of guest musicians add mood elements like trumpet, timpani, and accordion. Still, Elsie functions best as a display of Fallon's underused bottom register and acoustic songwriting skills, proving that slowing things down once in a while can still be a punk rock move. ~ Andrew Leahey
Rolling Stone (p.81) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Fallon drops his trademark cheap-scotch growl to a whisper, singing about loneliness and missed opportunities."
Spin (p.76) - "Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon uses the Horrible Crowes moniker to dial down the volume on his personal brand of heartland rock."
Alternative Press (p.107) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "'Cherry Blossoms' is a subtly gorgeous, Tom Waits-esque ballad..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.90) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The primary revelation of ELSIE is Fallon's voice....The sublime 'Cherry Blossoms' evokes the frailer vocals of Paul Westerberg or Ryan Adams before trumping both of them with a devastating, bereft baritone in the middle eight."