Reviews: This is Happening

Turnstyled Junkpiled
TJ Top 10 of 2014 - Southern California
A marriage between Southern California mainstays the Fallen Stars and Australian singer/songwriter Ben Riddle results in a moody and magical album.

Rock 'n' Roll Truth
Saturday, July 26, 2014

You might like if you enjoy: Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris, Fleet Foxes, Johnnyswim

Tell me more: Few movements in modern music have been as rewarding as the explosion of Americana over the past decade. Extending the sonic soundscape first established by the likes of Neil Young, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, modern-day heroes like Mumford & Sons,Trampled by Turtles and Johnnyswim have extended the reach of the genre in new and exciting directions. So too now have Australian singer-songwriter Ben Riddle and Huntington Beach, California-based outfit The Fallen Stars on the newly-issued collaboration This Is Happening. The sterling 12-track collection of authentic songs are enriched by a blend indie folk, alt country and roots music as Riddle and the Stars' talented tandem of Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes each get to sing lead vocals while elsewhere they combine forces for some crafty harmonies (notably on the stirring title track).  Highlights include the haunting "Favourite Photograph," reflective "Massachusetts," lovely "Stronger Than Steel" (inspired by the Kaylee Frye character on the cult sci-fi show Firefly) and epic "Dam." 
Schwindy's Indie Music Spotlight
Orange County Music Examiner
Cornershop Love
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
March 1, 2014

This collaboration is as unlikely a record as you could expect to hear. Why is that? Because it came about when a band from Huntington Beach met a singer from Australia while both were touring in Germany last year and ended up performing a number of shows together. That in itself makes this a pretty noteworthy album. Even more noteworthy for me is that I don't receive a lot of music that I can describe as pretty. That's not a condemnation of the music I receive. I think has more to say about which way my musical tastes lean. That being said, this is one of the prettiest albums I've heard in a while.

I've known The Fallen Stars for a while now, so it's not surprising to me that they make good songs and harmonize very well. Ben Riddle harmonizes very well with both Bobbo (guitar) and Tracy (bass), and he brings another dimension to what The Fallen Stars normally do. A good example of this is "Dam," which The Fallen Stars recorded for the Heart like Mine album. With Riddle, this is an even more beautiful song - the kind of song that could give you goosebumps.

So, how to explain this music? Well, it has elements of Americana (listen to "Get You out of Here" for a good example), particularly the sort of ethereal sound that Gram Parsons mastered. But more than the sound is the feel of the music. This is an album about telling stories and creating a mood with both melody and harmony. A great example is the title track, which brings to mind the storytelling of Townes Van Zandt. To put it another way, I once heard Emmylou Harris described as someone who has created her own genre. I don't know if Riddle and The Stars have reached that point yet, but I'd say they're headed in the right direction.

Now I could sit here and try to explain this album to you further, but I think you'd be way better off listening to this for yourself. After all, none of us can have too many beautiful things in our life - even if it's something as simple as an album of 12 songs. Riddle and The Stars currently have a Kickstarter project to raise money to print this amazing album.