“It’s such a shame/I heard the wind say this morning
Be still, my heart/I age by years at the mention of your name”

~Behold the Hurriance
The Horrible Crowes, Elsie

That’s a loaded line right there, isn’t it? Don’t we all know those people, those who snap us back to the moment we met them? When a too-quick second-held glance fills your chest with defeat or regret or love or whatevewr it may be, and you’re flooded by perspective.

Like a fool, I read all the buzz about Brian Fallon’s side project The Horrible Crowes without actually listening to it for quite some time. Now I’ve purchased “Elsie,” and I’m fawning over it quite a bit.

(“Sugar” was my acoustic triumph and tribute, it was quite a fun project.)

The whole album is a dance-hall flirtation, an affair played out in bars and loud cars with patron saints hanging from the rearview mirror.

Fallon’s vocal are easily more impressive on this project than on The Gaslight Anthem records, which makes me really fucking stoked for 2012’s “Handwritten.” His phrasing is pure theater, but his tone is the grittiness you’d except from a sexy, sleeved Jersey rocker, and he plays around with range a lot throughout the album and individual songs, making for wonderful contrasts. Which, come to think of it, is a good word for this album – it’s love and it’s regret, it’s heartfelt and a little trashy.

“Elsie,” in true Fallon form, rips out your heart just so you can dance on it yourself. Admittedly, I find myself playing individual tracks from the first half of the album a little more than the latter now that I’ve listened to the whole thing. But piano-driven “Black Betty and the Moon” and “Crush” feel like Billy Joel at his most pop-poetic, and I dig it. I dig it all.

And then there’s “Ladykiller,” chill-inducing, lost love testament, when all the reasons for the pain al right htere in your face. Here, let’s watch a stripped-down live version, and you shall see what I mean:

“And how about this for a good one
Maybe we don’t ever come down
I can leave the wound wide open
And maybe see if I can tough it out
Let it pour over my head
All your shame and your history
And see if I say a thing
As it rolls up inside of me

And you must’ve met a man
Tall and handsome at that
Who must’ve put a spell on you, baby
And must’ve kept on coming back
Cause I can smell him in your skin
I bet I taste him in your blood
Must be all the young boys, baby
Lady killer got the two of us”

The Horrible Crowes, Elsie