They met. They fell in love. They wrote songs.
They fought. They made up. They broke up. They wrote songs.
At a time when for most it would be the end of a relationship, for Australian duo Falls it was just the beginning. After having spent every Wednesday night for two years playing at a little hotel in Sydney called the Hollywood, the unsigned duo took a leap of faith and headed to the U.S. for the first time to play SXSW. Just a few months later, songwriters Simon Rudston-Brown and Melinda Kirwin signed a record deal with Verve (UMG), moved to Los Angeles, and released their debut album Omaha.
Falls have spent the time since its release traversing the length and breadth of the United States, crossing continents, playing shows and writing the songs that would become their new EP Bodega Rose.
Recorded with Grammy Award winning producer Joe Chiccarelli (My Morning Jacket, Manchester Orchestra, Alanis Morissette) at iconic Sunset Sound Recorders in LA, and largely shaped by their love of Americana music, the songs on Bodega Rose elegantly capture both the thrill and the fallout of following through on a dream. Illustrating life on the road and the feeling one gets when you no-longer know where home is anymore.
“For us, the EP feels like a shoebox full of polaroid’s and postcards, notes on napkins and ticket stubs you’re not quite ready to throw away,” says Kirwin. “Each song is like a polaroid of a moment in time. A snapshot of place, or a person and the feelings they evoked.”
Lyrically rich and carried by this duo’s gorgeous harmonies, Bodega Rose is authentic and unassuming. Its simple melodies as accessible and sincere as the stories they complete. Falls worked closely with Chiccarelli to create a ruggedly melodic, harmony-rich sound that intensifies the power of each subtly crafted lyric. With Kirwin and Rudston-Brown sharing songwriting duties and trading lead vocals, the EP maintains a daringly raw sensibility, whether leaning toward stripped-back simplicity or drifting into more intricately layered terrain. For help in building those more lushly textured tracks, Falls enlisted the string-arranging talents of Tony Buchen (the producer behind their inaugural EP, Hollywood, which debuted at No. 2 on the iTunes Australian singer/songwriter chart upon release).
Straddling a blurred line of folk and Americana, the five-song EP moves from stripped-down singer-songwriter ballads to radio friendly pop songs.
With songs written on the streets of Sydney, New York and Nashville, the EP is inspired by the whirlwind that the band’s past few years have been – where home has become the couch or spare-room of whichever friend lives in the city you currently find yourself in – even when it’s the town you grew-up in. This EP-wide theme is illustrated most eloquently in the melancholy but openhearted, weary but wide-eyed track “Grand Gorge”. On this song Falls offer one of Bodega Rose’s most sonically stark but emotionally candid moments, with Rudston-Brown singing “and your keychain holds the memories of everyone you know”.
Shifting perspective, the bright but bittersweet lead single ‘On Attack’, a polaroid of past lovers, illustrates a moment of awakening. “When the idea of home is illusive and you feel like you’ve lost your grounding, you sometimes find yourself clinging to people like life rafts,” says Kirwin. “This song is about that moment when you realize that you’re not drowning, you can touch the ocean floor with your feet, and you can save yourself.” ‘On Attack’ is a no regrets, unapologetic
battle cry about forgetting one’s failures and rising from the ashes. A powerful and empowering breakup song that beautifully captures the 20/20 hindsight of a rocky relationship. Its setting is that moment of clarity when a hesitation becomes a confident walk forward.
Showing the duo’s graceful versatility, Bodega Rose finds Falls channeling Paul Simon’s enigmatic storytelling on “See Another Day”, and ‘echoing the queen of country’ Emmylou Harris on “Somebody Like You”. The band close the EP with the wistful but optimist “River Runs To The Sea”, a postcard from Sydney. As Kirwin puts it, “it’s a message to a friend you really hope you’ll see again soon – the one that feels like home” - achieving a fragile honesty that’s nothing short of heartbreaking.
While the influence of luminaries Lennon/McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Byrds and Fleetwood Mac are clearly evident, the addition of Buchen’s strings reflect the band’s more contemporary influences, Beck and Father John Misty.
In Bodega Rose’s delicate exploration of the tension between ambition and love, Kirwin and Rudston-Brown embrace a confessional spirit that suggests a lifelong pull toward the singer/ songwriter role. But despite their easy sophistication as lyricists, neither band member had even sung before the two began collaborating. “We never actually planned to make music together,” says Kirwin, who met Rudston-Brown while she was studying woodwind and he was studying guitar at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. “We were just living in a house with a bunch of other musicians, and one of us would be working on something and the other would chime in with an idea. Before too long we’d written some songs together — although it didn’t occur to us that we should be the ones to sing them until one of our friends recommended it.”
Upon the release of Hollywood in late 2012, success came quickly for the duo. Their debut single, “Home,” was added to rotation on Australian radio station Triple J, and tours with The Lumineers, Passenger and Of Monsters and Men, saw Falls fast develop an impressive live resume which now also includes performances at Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, CMJ, Bumbershoot, Loufest, The Americana Music Festival, Austin City Limits and most recently Bonnaroo and Firefly Festival.
Though the lyrical imagery of Bodega Rose mines much of its inspiration from Falls’ fascination with American life, and its cities and landscapes, at the heart of the EP is a painfully tender dialogue between its two songwriters. “Our songs are at times deeply personal,” says Kirwin. “They’re raw, they’re real and they’re very honest.” There is a ubiquitous undercurrent of longing that runs throughout the record, and at times it is difficult to tell if it is for each other, or love lost in their relocation to another continent. And it’s a secret that is staying firmly safe with them.