Charleston’s Thompson Faulk explains his debut album This is Life as being about just that – existence; reality vs his expectations as well as “everyday struggles in relationships and living that I think most people go through as they grow out of their twenties”. The singer-songwriter has made a record that encapsulates this point of view very well, following a loose concept of moving through life, accepting the past and trying to find hope in the future. It’s both a love letter to his wife and a discourse on growing old, told in snippets of remembrance. Produced by Matt Zutell for Coast Records, This is Life showcases Faulk’s soulful style that shadows an evolution from Springsteen/ Mellencamp towards the newer boundaries of contemplative roots music that Will Hoge and Jason Isbell are delving into now. Thompson has a strong, impassioned Southern delivery that he uses to evoke nostalgia and examine relationships throughout, bringing to mind aspects of all the aforementioned artists.
The catchy lead track, “Beauty in the Headlights” starts with a simply strummed acoustic, a voice and a wistful steel guitar. After a verse, then comes the rolling bass and drums turning this tune about a night drive bent on reflection into a driving rock song. “Dreams That We Were Younger” features the folk rock duo Finnegan Bell and its pop/ country hybrid is piano inflected and explores the past like much of this album. My favorite line is the one about “missing all the records that we gave away”, a lament that I can definitely relate with. “Hold on Me” is roots rock with moody keys, a song seemingly directed to his wife, with great backing vocals from Charlotte Laird from The Give & the Take and “Yesterday’s Gone” is a slow ballad, Isbellian, that follows the theme of nostalgia with an eye toward the future. “Rocket Coming Down” is alt country about growing old and regretful, the lyrics wondering “Does he ever cuss at Jesus while he sleeps/ or does he keep his faith while he weeps?”. The title track is a heartfelt declaration of love and a recollection of trials and tribulations, vanquished while “Angel Eyes” is a pop ballad of sweetly delivered words of encouragement with a wonderful undercurrent of organ. The rootsy narrative of “Carrie Was” has a nice surprise spaced out middle solo section and the closer, “Every Kiss” reminds me of Springsteen with Faulk’s final thank you to his inspiration.
What we have here is some promising Americana, with an ambitious feel. As a Season 1, Episode 1 for Thompson Faulk, this is a great debut. He has a soulful voice and the heart of a balladeer, his philosopher’s stone turning random moments of everyday life into deep introspection. The first single can be heard at Thompsonfaulk.com and the album will be released on all major platforms on December 21st; go see how his life is a lot like yours.
Recommended if you like: Jason Isbell, John Mellencamp, Will Hoge