Leaf in a Forest’s debut AltPop album inspired by famous works of art
The name for Josh Falling’s new band, Leaf in a Forest, wasn’t chosen on a whim.
Falling’s father grew up on a Cherokee reservation, and for generations the family’s traditional last name was Falling Leaves. The band name is a tribute to that history.
And the debut album from Leaf in a Forest was also inspired by the past, but in a different way. Titled Galleria, the 14-track album is a nod to art throughout history. Each song was inspired by a different piece of art, and all but two of them borrow their titles from famous works, like Starry Night (Van Gogh), The Old Guitarist (Picasso) and Waiting in Vain (Banksy).
“I find it easier to write if I have something more specific to write about,” Falling says. “I found the paintings I wanted to write about that gave me emotions or stories based on looking at those. In the lyric book on my website (www.leafinaforest.com), my friend made paintings based on the songs based on other paintings and we used them for the background of the lyrics.”
Most of the songs were written a few years ago, when Falling was playing in a band called Rain and Leaves. But when the pandemic hit and live music came to a halt, Falling decided to record everything again from scratch, settling into his small home studio for six hours a day. He changed the vibe of the music quite a bit, transitioning from something with more techno and electronic elements into something more natural and organic with strings and horns.
A natural guitarist, Falling didn’t use that instrument once on the album. Instead, most of the music is based on the ukulele, which helps set it apart.
“I would still call it AltPop, which it was before, but the difference is I went for a more organic sound,” Falling says. “Before it was very synth-based with drums that were almost like dubstep. Now the drums are more traditional, almost like pop punk, and instead of synth its strings and horns and saxophones, flutes, clarinets. Most of my music has some poppy upbeat tones but it’s more alternative and I felt this was a more natural sound for the music.”
Falling drew inspiration from bands like Twenty One Pilots, AJR and Panic! at the Disco.
Only two of the songs aren’t named after famous works of art. The first song is called “101” as in Art 101, an introductory class. And the album’s final track is “Self Portrait,” which is more of an introspective look.
The album’s third track is “The Old Guitarist,” titled after Picasso’s painting of a hunched-over guitarist. The lyrics were inspired by someone who has spent their whole life as a musician but never got anywhere.
“Like a lot of musicians, going through life and thinking of what could have happened,” Falling says. “Despite being a sadder song it has a more upbeat feel and I like that duality. A sadder song with lyrics to have an upbeat feel so it’s not too depressing.”
The fourth track is another nod to Picasso. Called “Girl with a Mandolin,” it’s Falling’s favorite on the album with a distinct shift in feel as it switches into the bridge, with cinematic-sounding strings accompanying the ukulele.
Then there’s “Starry Night,” a reference to the famous Van Gogh painting. Falling wanted the bridge to feel like the biggest part of the whole album – big and sweeping.
“Like you’re looking at that Starry Night and it’s exploding and feels really loud and energetic,” he says.
For more, follow Leaf in a Forest on Facebook and Instagram and visit the band’s website HERE