When he set out to record his debut album as Leaf in a Forest, Josh Falling looked at a dozen famous works of art to see what feelings they inspired within. The result is Galleria, a stirring AltPop record with a more organic sound than Falling’s past projects. And 12 of the 14 tracks take their names directly from the artworks that inspired them, including songs like “The Old Guitarist,” based on the Picasso painting. “The Old Guitarist shows a musician who’s kind of hunched over in the Picasso style and he’s old and aging,” Falling says. “I thought of a guitarist who just got old and never accomplished what he wanted to do. American

Gothic is the two farmers side by side looking a bit unhappy, so the lyrics are about trying to put on a smile and fake that you’re happy when you’re not. I looked at all of them and thought about the emotions they gave me, the story they put in my mind and took it from there.”

That doesn’t mean the songs are all sad, even if the artwork might be. Take Banksy’s Waiting in Vain, for instance, which depicts an apparently downtrodden man holding a bouquet of flowers that are slowly dropping their petals. It’s also the penultimate track on Galleria, but Falling went a different direction with the lyrics. “Don’t let that happen to you,” he says of the song. “Take advantage of whatever you can and make it worth your while instead of waiting for something to happen. A lot of the songs are inspired by regrets or looking back at things and reminiscing. This is the most optimistic one.”

The project as a whole offers a very upbeat sound, with Falling’s ukulele playing serving as the driving force musically. The majority of the songs were originally recorded for a previous project that featured a more electronic-heavy sound, but when he set out to re-record them he decided to use real drums and incorporate orchestral sounds like strings, horns and clarinets. “

I was much happier with the sound of it,” he says. “And I think it appeals to a broader audience because electronica and dubstep is more of a niche thing. Almost everyone can appreciate strings and I felt like it fit more.”

The only two songs not named after a work of art are “101,” the album’s intro, and “Self Portrait,” the album’s finale. But even those were obviously inspired by the world of art. “Self Portrait is a commonly used title for all artists out there, just a reflection of themselves,” Falling says. “It’s about my fiancé who I’m marrying this summer and just our story. We weren’t together when I wrote the other songs and this one is very different. It’s slower with more of a ballad vibe. It’s not a high energy song like the others. I thought it was a good way to end the album.”Falling has played in several bands around Rochester, New York, and Leaf in a Forest is his first solo project. The name comes from his family history; his father grew up on a Cherokee reservation and the family name was originally Falling Leaves. Falling’s last band was called Rain and Leaves. He’s released four lyric videos on YouTube for “Starry Night,” “The Old Guitarist,” “The Umbrellas” and “Waiting in Vain” and plans to work on more videos in the near future, as well as some live streaming options. 

For more, follow Leaf in a Forest on Facebook and Instagram and visit the band’s website, www.leafinaforest.com

“Galleria” by Leaf in a Forest:

YouTube Music

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Leaf in a Forest