MANHATTAN, NY—This is not the British band known as The Fall, nor is it the Canadian band Falls. This is the Australian folk duo known as The Falls. Melinda Kirwin and Simon Rudston-Brown met at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney straight out of school. Kirwin was studying classical saxophone, and Rudston-Brown was studying guitar.
Over the next eight years, they wrote beautiful songs about their love and performed locally, particularly on Wednesday nights at the Hotel Hollywood. Then, six months before recording their debut EP in 2010, the couple split apart. Kirwin and Rudston-Brown discovered that they were better bandmates than bedmates, and maintained a friendly and professional relationship. As a music career looked more promising, the band recorded a second EP, Into The Fire, and moved to the United States. The EP was released on February 18, and the duo is opening a national tour for Delta Rae.
At the Bowery Ballroom on Feb. 25, most of The Falls’ musical arrangements were comprised of Rudston-Brown on acoustic guitar and Kirwin and Rudston-Brown harmonizing on vocals. Contemporary music seldom gets more naked than that. A few songs were ever so slightly embellished when Rudston-Brown sporadically tapped an electronic pad with his right boot to get a bass drum effect, Kirwin played a melodica on one track, and a string quartet accompanied the duo on four songs.
Reminiscent of The Civil Wars and Over The Rhine, The Falls matched a deeper male voice with a lighter and sunnier female voice to create a dreamy, heartfelt warmth that felt like a down-filled blanket by a sputtering fireplace on a cold winter’s night. Lyrics were easy to distinguish, which grew increasingly more curious when this pair of ex-lovers sang about the pain of heartbreak—were they singing to and about each other? Though the duo was largely unknown by the audience at the start of the set, by the end The Falls had the Delta Rae fans cheering.
For more information on The Falls, go to fallsofficial.com.