On first listening to Falling Faster Than You Can Run, I found myself facing each track expecting something rather dramatic from the musical accompaniment, and it didn’t arrive. There’s no wailing violin at the songs emotional peaks, no wave of strings swirling us over and around in some melancholic mood, no ominously marching bass drum. Rateliff’s acoustic guitar skips through strummed or finger-picked chords, drums deal in rhythm and not mood, and when an electric guitar appears, it seems to stick to backing up Rateliff’s chords and playing fairly recognisable ‘classic American rock’ style riffs, or some slide straight out of a country music playbook. But I listened again and again. Why? Because Rateliff has created something brilliant.
The familiar musical accompaniment is a frame. Rateliff’s vocal drives every song, resting in the frame as long as he allows, and once he has found the perfect (without exception) moment, exploding outwards. It hits with a stab of charged emotion like a bar fight crack to the jaw that has you grinning as you’re knocked down – grinning because even though you saw it coming, you’re transfixed; grinning because it compresses some blurry idea of a mood down to something real, something in pinpoint focus. Rateliff sings, wails and screams, and out comes something pure. ‘Three Fingers In’ and ‘Forgetting is believing’ would be my stand out picks, but take the time to listen from start to finish, because Falling Faster Than You Can Run is, frankly, invigorating.
Words: David Fraser