Needle Drop: Eron Falbo, “What I Could’ve Been”

As “What I Could’ve Been” plows through the speakers in hailstorm of harmonica, drums, and electric guitar, one can’t help but identify that familiar “thin mercury sound.” You know, the one Dylan spoke of when reflecting on the recording sessions for Blonde on Blonde? I also hear the sheer enjoyment of context and language that Leonard Cohen’s early work thrived on.

The man responsible for the sound on Eron Falbo’s debut 73 is none other than Bob Johnston; the producer of the seminal albums by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. Supposedly Falbo called Johnston out of retirement, crowning him as the only man for the job. After singing his demoes to him over the phone, Johnston agreed to the task—only if Falbo could make it from his native Brazil to Nashville.

Falbo fashions himself in the “Poets of Rock n’ Roll” lineage and does a fantastic job conjuring up the same kind of lyrical magic that made ’60s rock so memorable. With the unmistakable lyrical charge of “What I Could’ve Been,” Falbo makes his case as a viable torch-bearer in the tradition of Johnston’s previous muses. Like his heroes, Falbo obviously has the modern gift of turning a phrase, while often leaning farther into the past for inspiration.

“The sheer delight, the sight of empty halls/ Grafittied walls of dirty bathroom stalls/ Create the visions in the slumbered stares/ That can prove nothing and go nowhere…”

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