Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Well, I'm confused.  I've been enjoying Jakob Dylan's recent two-album stretch as an acoustic troubadour, and I thought The Wallflowers was kaput.  But here he is back in the fold, doing the lead singer stuff, writing the words, but seemingly being a collaborator on it all with the rest of the band.  Well, all's fair of course, and really it's not much different from when Tom Petty was doing that solo vs. Heartbreakers thing.  I guess that comparison came up because I hear a little Petty in this latest rock band sound of the group, heavy on the organ and big ensemble sound.  The band certainly wanted to make some noise and cut loose, and the tracks were done live in the studio in short order, with no trickery, just the basic instruments.

There are several high-quality rockers here, one of those sneaky albums without big stand-out tracks, no One Headlight for instance, but numbers that have been growing on me each play.  Constellation Blues drives along with a Springsteen storyline, a basic Joe, third generation gun-owning U.S. citizen, but someone with a secret.  But The Wallflowers keep the mystery in it, letting it fade out with a big obvious ending; makes me wanna play it again.  A trio of heartland numbers open the disc, all with a groove and hooks, guitar-and-organ the way rock bands used to be.  At first listen, Reboot The Mission sounds a bit like a like a lark, with its punk reggae straight out of The Clash songbook.  But then you find out that's completely on purpose, as Mick Jones guests on guitar and vocals, and the lyrics make mention of "the mighty Joe Strummer".

At the heart of it all are Dylan's lyrics, and the solo sojourn has done him well.  Now back in the rock band field, you realize how rich the images and story lines are, and how much that adds to a band.  While the music grows on you, you also get to take in the depth of the writing.  Love Is A Country barely talks about love at all, describing the area he's in, all its pitfalls in the town and country, until he gets to the point of the metaphor:  Love is a country better crossed when you're young.  I.E., it's a tough journey.  Ponder that one.  Despite my reticence after a first listen, I'm now pretty convinced Dylan does belong in a band setting, and I think I'll be going back to this more than the acoustic albums over time.

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