Album review: Jerry Falzone “Chasing Ghosts”

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With each record Rochester, New York’s Jerry Falzone offers beautiful melodies over cascading, subtle folk/rock music. Despite this sensibility, I simply can’t call him a singer/songwriter. Instead, I’d classify him as old school, synthesizing influences from the rise of the late 60’s: Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, The Eagles, and Bob Seger. Jerry has somehow maintained a mentor role for like-minded musicians in the Western New York area while continuously engaging as one of the emerging artists. This shows his passion for music, and Chasing Ghosts (Self-released, 2017), carried by backing band Liar’s Moon, is his best work to date.

He throws in strings, horns, lush vocal harmonies, and restrained guitar solos throughout the album, while lyrically he offers some of his most personal stuff. Most tracks are love songs, but Jerry (who’s been married for a while and has offspring), sheds gooey lust pop for meaningful messages about longstanding love, and I believe this travels beyond his romantic life and speaks to his community, something he’s closely tied to. This vision for his music sprawls across the album, and the intensity pauses only momentarily for “Message to Millennials”, a brief transition halfway through the album when a voice hearkens, “That concludes side one of Chasing Ghosts.”

This tongue-in-cheek addition also speaks to Jerry’s focus on producing an album, not just a series of songs. The album swims high and low, soft and hard, deep and danceable. “Built To Last” leaps out as a key track. “In a world that’s changing fast/ nothing ever seems to last/ You turn around/ something new has passed,” Jerry begins, followed by the elegant chorus (that warms like CSNY’s best), “Like a mountain reaching into the past/ baby, you and me/ we were built to last.” Piano plays a big role for the instrumentation here, along with lead guitar reminiscent of early Dire Straits.

“Cold Cold World” follows, basking in keys again. The funky up-tempo is a newer and welcome pace for Jerry. Later, “Gray Day Dawning” has a similar pulse to it, on which Jerry yearns, “I wish this rain would lift/ I’m so tired of it.” The title track appears last, and is a haunting, ethereal scene: “I left here many years ago,” Jerry offers; “never said goodbye.”

Much of Jerry’s music is existential in nature, exploring death and love in a simultaneously solemn and grateful manner. Throughout Chasing Ghosts the harmonies hold onto that haunted quality, speaking to a complex man who is very in touch with his darker sides. In fact, Jerry’s good friend, Carl Lang, who appears on the record, passed away mid-recording, and Jerry kept his ashes in the studio. This sentimentality and respect for spirit is evident in each song.

These days, I’m not listening to much folk/rock, but Jerry remains one of my favored songwriters. Even after a full lifetime of music, he’s not done growing, and Chasing Ghosts is catchy, witty, emotional, courageous, and endearing. Sure, it’s not pushing the limits of music, but sometimes that’s not necessary, and when someone does their thing as well as Jerry does, it can be good to sit back and just enjoy an artist sharing his voice.

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