Sometimes, a guy deserves to catch a bit of a break. After running through the independent and underground DJ circuit, Eron Falbo took a liking to being a singer-songwriter. Perhaps it was his undying love for Simon & Garfunkel, or perhaps it was that screaming Johnny Cash voice deep beneath nearly every songwriter. You want to be like me! You can make music as good as mine!
Of course, Falbo would need a producer to bring his spirited country/pop/blues to life. Even Johnny Cash had one. So through a puzzling and downright book-worthy series of events, Falbo produced his debut record “73” with the iconic folk mastermind, Bob Johnston. It seems almost magical that Johnston would be involved with this work at all, which is alone a testament to the raw talent and inspiring songwriting qualities of Falbo. I mean, Johnston has barely produced anything in the last 15 years.
I think even Falbo himself would be wise to admit that this was a collaborative effort between Falbo and Johnston. The latter’s stamp of authenticity is so credible and long lasting that it presents itself all over the record. That jangly guitar sound forwarded by Cash is well intact on songs such as “Sacagawea’s Son.” But the song also has that upbeat rambunctious energy, something borrowed more from Pete Seeger’s early 70’s material. “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies” erupts triumphantly with big recorded handclaps, only to redirect into this galloping acrobatic vocal performance. But the song breaks down into this mini salsa interlude, only again to erupt back to life with the handclaps. The entire thing is just so…perfect. It may be right out of the early 70’s rock/folk playbook, but when no one else is doing it (and you have Johnston at the helm) it is all so radiant. Falbo’s voice is domineering as well, a nice torch-carrier from the forbearers that drew the map.
“What I Could’ve Been” is straight Dylan from the calculated use of the harmonica to the stripped down and vocal focus that precedes the hook. The narrative storybook lyrics take it even further.
I think the influence of Johnston cannot be explained enough. This is not only the guy between non-arguably one of the greatest rock record of all time, Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, but also Dylan’s masterful and delicate Blonde on Blonde. And if that wasn’t enough, Johnston produced Sounds of Silence and the best releases from Leonard Cohen- my personal favorite being the sensational Songs of Love and Hate.
This is a big deal for an artist such as Eron Falbo. 73 swirls together these classic styles, but it does not modernize them. For some, that can be frustrating. For others, it is an unencumbered walk down memory lane.