The Wallflowers return: We're glad it's not over with "Glad All Over" says our KINK Community contributor Cynthia Orlando.
GLAD ALL OVER
How do we love thee, Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers? Let us count the ways. There's so much good music on the new "Glad All Over" release it's hard for us to know where to start - but we'll try.
The new release opens with "Hospital for Sinners," a brash, sardonic rocker which may or may not be a cynical look at society's religion-infused rescue organizations. What we know for sure: it's classic urban storytelling in the tradition of Dylan senior, and we like it a lot.
A Clash and Wallflowers Homage
The vibe lightens, brightens and rolls on with "Misfits and Lovers" sung with The Clash's Mick Jones; it's the best new party music we've had on tap for some time. "The Clash left a big impact on me," Dylan said in a CNN interview recently, "I feel like we came all this way because of them. I got a Telecaster because of them."
The Clash and Telecaster's aside, both "Misfits and Lovers" and "First One in the Car" make it around all the bases to home plate, sounding like instant rock classics that should easily become radio airplay favorites. And if they don't, well, it's everyone's loss.
While there aren't really any bad tracks here, "First One in the Car" has a grim determination and 5-star musical intensity reminiscent of "One Headlight," and is easily one of the best. The sweeping arrangement of "Constellation Blues," including some relatable American storytelling that moves us, is another highlight.
Sometimes you can hear a song on the radio and enjoy it, but not fully appreciate it until you hear it in the context of the rest of the album. Such may be the case with the piano driven hit single "Reboot the Mission" currently enjoying airplay at KINK. Sandwiched between the mellow closing notes of "First One in the Car" and the theatrical "It's a Dream," "Reboot" leaps out in a startling way, managing to engage us in a whole new way with its sheer, spunky fun.
"Reboot the Mission" simultaneously pays homage to both The Clash's style and to The Wallflowers - check out the last stanza: "Welcome Jack, the new drummer / He jammed with the mighty Joe Strummer / I see Rami, Greg and Stewart / I gotta say, Jay, we've had it coming."
Reboot the Mission
Formed in 1989 and originally known as The Apples, The Wallflowers have released 5 studio albums. They've earned two Grammy awards, one for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group, the other for Best Rock Song for "One Headlight" in 1998. Band lineup on "Glad All Over" includes: Jakob Dylan, vocals, guitar; Rami Jaffee, piano, organ; Greg Richling, bass, percussion, backing vocals; Stuart Mathis, guitar, pedal steel, backing vocals; Jack Irons (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam), drums, percussion; and Jay Joyce, guitar, percussion backing vocals. "Glad All Over" is their first new release in seven years.
Dylan's vocals sound smooth and sure, there's some great keyboard action by Rami Jaffee, and the whole band sounds comfortable in their own skin. The cover artwork is cool, and true music junkies will love reading lyrics and liner notes.
And what's not to like about the hilarious and original "Its a Dream"? It's crazy fun, an early favorite of this writer. Once he's finished recounting his odd but entertaining dreams and night terrors, Dylan informs his woman: "I can't let you sleep any longer my love / You can't leave me here to fend for both of us / it's a dream, it's a dream, girl you're gonna wake up." Thanks to its rousing piano, some dramatic electric guitar and a great backbeat, it's got an irresistible dance vibe - the kind of song that, performed live, will bring down the rafters and leave fans laughing and breathless. Great stuff.
It's a Dream
Other artists this music somewhat resembles? Sure. "First One in the Car" and "Love is a Country" both open with a dreamy Crowded House texture sure to please, while the expansive "Constellation Blues" sounds a bit Springsteen-ish.
Then there's "One Set of Wings," the closing track; it's a great, mellow little rocker that would've fit in nicely on their previous "Bringing Down the Horse" release.
How can we count the ways we love it all? Fans of roots-rock…followers of Tom Petty, Warren Zevon, Bruce Cockburn or the other Bruce…along with Wallflowers fans and newbies - will find plenty of things to love and appreciate about "Glad All Over."
Begging the question: are there a lot of influences here, or does Jakob Dylan's DNA just naturally channel a profusion of great musical styles? Given that he's already proven himself with "One Headlight" - a classic still as compelling and fresh as the day it was released - we're inclined to assume the latter.
However he does it, Jakob Dylan breathes fresh life into rock n' roll, and that's something everyone can appreciate.
Heard the expression "It's All Good"? Besides, if you buy just a couple of tracks now, you'll probably wish you'd just bought the whole thing later. But hey, there's a Recession going on, so if you're leaning towards a couple-three tracks, don't miss: "First One in the Car" "Misfits and Lovers" "It's a Dream" and "Reboot the Mission."
You can listen to the whole album in its entirety here.