If there’s a musical equivalent of the bildungsroman (bildungsrecord?), then Downhaul’s debut full-length Before You Fall Asleep certainly qualifies. Throughout the album’s 33 minutes, Gordon Phillips and company try to navigate their twenties – with varying degrees of success. When they do fail, which seems to happen fairly often, they at least come back stronger.
So it is, in fact, when the album begins. “Grace Days” is a slow, drawly opener that stops and starts back up again twice within the first minute, like the band is just getting used to this whole music thing. “Word reaches me that you’re not taking care of yourself,” Phillips sings in the first verse. If you’re expecting some profound words of comfort, you’d be disappointed. He doesn’t call or write to check in, “because I don’t know how to, and that’s something I’ve got to live with.” This becomes a recurring theme on Before You Fall Asleep, that feeling of powerlessness you have over your own life, not to mention those of the people you love.