Reviews: Heart Like Mine
By Robert Kinsler
April 5, 2012
Exhilarating and emotive, the Fallen Stars’ latest disc “Heart Like Mine” explores the expansive alt-country movement with forceful rock (“Glad,” “All I Want”), infectious mid-tempo material (“Jealous Kind,” “Jericho”) and poignant ballads (“Dam,” “Last Hurrah”). Singer-guitarist Bobbo Byrnes and singer-bassist Tracy Byrnes trade lead vocal duties, while guest spots from keyboardist Rami Jaffee (the Wallflowers), lap steel great Danny Orr [sic] and lead guitarist Gregg Braught bring greater sonic richness to the proceedings. The Fallen Stars bring the genre’s history to the forefront courtesy of “Tequila & Morphine,” a chilling look at the 1973 death of alt-country music pioneer Gram Parsons (the Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers) with Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes’ voices blending in inexorable harmony.
Music Connection Magazine
Two singers lead this ultra-tight quartet-the folk-serious Bobbo and the buoyant Tracy Byrnes-and give it multiple dimensions. Bobbo's outing, the songs "Dam" and "Glad," are strong, particularly the latter with it's thoughtful lyrics, memorable hook and a lead vocal that strides confidently. Tracy's vocals shine with instant vitality, but she deserves way better material than the mundane "All I Want." What really comes through on these recordings is that this road-tested unit have performance chops to the max.
Singer-songwriter-guitarist Bobbo Byrnes and wife Tracy Byrnes on vocals & bass return to the fold with bandmates Geoff Geib on piano & B3 and Gary O'Yeah on drums with a fine sounding new album of contemporary country rock entitled Heart Like Mine. Formerly from Massachusetts, the couple have called Southern California their home for the last decade, and over the years they've toured most of the country and some of Europe bringing their uptempo brand of Americana to the masses.
On Heart Like Mine the couple not only shares vocal duties but sings in tandem as well as harmonize together with chiming clarity. The songs are full of touching sentiment and are well played by Geib, O'Yeah and Byrnes', but it's the vocals that really put the tunes over the top. Special musical guests Rami Jaffee on B3, Caitlin Cary on violin, Gregg Braught on guitar, Danny Ott on "fancy guitar playing" & lap steel along with backing singers Anna Tutor, Emma Simons-Araya, Heather Stewart & Sue Paine all lend their collective talents to this masterfully produced record. Exceptional tracks aimed for nationwide airplay include the ethereal rocker "Glad," the easy country glide of "Valentine's Day," the epic "Jericho," the two-steppin' hoedown of "What's His Name," the footstompin' thump of "All I Want," the gallop of "Summer Wine," and the Ramones meet Garth Brooks vibe of "Truckin' Song."
The OC Weekly
By Ned Raggett
We apologize for our extended absence here for a bit but when it comes to things like nasty flu-like viruses they tend to do lovely things to the ability to concentrate on music properly. Which would have meant that our appreciation of a song like "Valentine's Day" on this album, even if it was more timely, would have been muddled. Said song, beautifully sung by bassist Tracy Byrnes, is definitely a treat, as is much of Heart Like Mine, the fourth release by these local country-rock stalwarts.
Brynes [sic] and her multi-instrumentalist husband Bobbo, the core of the band, duet at many points, with the occasional solo turns by both adding further variety to the overall sound; that they're a veteran band is something you almost sense by implication at this point. There's everything from an ease and accomplishment in the sequencing -- an hour long, the album often feels like a pitch-perfect setlist -- to the overall performances, where nothing is per se surprising but everything punches the right buttons. Bobbo's solos in particular are often spot-on, a bit of flash without crushing the arrangements.
Ultimately, in their performances, appreciation for classic rock as much as classic country and at times their sense of an America where lights are burning dimly in the midst of cold emptiness, the Fallen Stars at their best here, on songs like "Dam" and "What's His Name," call to mind a bit of a peppier riff on the still underrated Walkabouts, perhaps America's most unfairly obscure roots band. If the Byrnes can bring a little of that majesty to local stages in their particular way -- and they do -- then it's all to the good. Plus, a songtitle like "Tequila & Morphine" is just too perfect -- as is "Part Time Cowboy."
The Huntington Beach Independent
In the Pipeline: Fallen Stars are rising
By Chris Epting
October 12, 2011
Fresh back from seeing Huntington Beach's own Avenged Sevenfold and Brandon Saller play in the area last week, I was more than ready to dedicate a column to more local music news. Yes, this place is called Surf City, but let us not forget that this is also one of the most formidable music breeding grounds in the United States.
This week, we start with a look at the Fallen Stars, winners of multiple OC Music Awards and winners of the SoCal Music Live Awards' Best Electric Band and Best Acoustic Band honors. Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Bobbo Byrnes, lead vocalist and bassist Tracy Byrnes, Gary O'Yeah on drums and Geoff Geib on the B3 and piano, the band recently released "Heart Like Mine" — its third studio album (which is available for purchase at iTunes, CD Baby and the band's website, http://www.thefallenstars.com.
As the band describes it, the collection features "Sixteen tracks of Americana rock n' roll in the mold of Bruce Springsteen, the Pretenders, Wilco and Whiskeytown."
And, I would add, the music is authentic, rootsy and beautifully constructed; it's familiar and fresh all at once.
"Heart Like Mine" also includes contributions from a handful of talented musicians, including Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters, the Wallflowers) on Hammond B3, Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown) on violin and Danny Ott (Chris Gaffney, Dave Alvin) on guitar and lap steel.
Recently, they spoke to us about their new album, among other things.
Before releasing "Heart Like Mine," Bobbo said, "[A]nd as we started fine-tuning the album, I knew we were onto something." Can you elaborate on this?
Bobbo: It was sounding better than everything else we had ever done before. We kept writing and playing and ended up with 25 to 30 songs. From there, we cut it down to 18 songs, and finally settled with 16 songs. We liked all of it, and it was really difficult to cut down.
Gary: Compared to the albums in the past, this had a very unique sound.
Geoff: When playing and arranging, we immediately recognized it. We really hit our stride. The energy that was produced during live shows was brought into the rehearsal studio, and it was a step above everything we had done before.
The band and the music both seem to have a very genuine feel. Is creating songs that provide a connection a crucial part of the Fallen Stars' music?
Bobbo: Absolutely. There's no way to fake stuff. We actually just did a cover of "Last Friday Night," and that's a very modern song, but when you listen to what the song is saying, it has an incredible feel. A lot of songs are like that when you pay attention to what is being said.
Has living in Southern California/Huntington Beach shaped the band's music in any way?
Gary: Everyone is California wants the same thing, so it either motivates you to do better or motivates you to quit.
Is there an audience that is significantly attracted to your music?
Tracy: People who like classic rock usually like our music, because we're like new classic rock. Or people who enjoy folk rock like us. We travel a lot cross-country, and it's great road trip music for the highway. It's very American-inspired. Also, a lot of musicians seem to enjoy our music, like singer-songwriters who know their stuff, and that's something I think we should be proud of.
The band is an eclectic group. How do you think this has molded the songs and genre of music in representing the Fallen Stars?
Bobbo: It definitely shapes the songs. I will write a song, and someone will come up with an idea that will take it in a different direction than what I was thinking. All by yourself, you're just one brain, but together with multiple brains, it's much richer.
What are your future plans for the band?
Tracy: We would love to broaden the base outside of the Southern California area so others can be exposed to our music.