A fulfilled destiny at last
Almost a decade later, The Wallflowers bloom with new ballads of classic rock. Their newest endeavor, Exit Wounds, alludes to the rock repertoire they always have strived for. Excavated from their glory in the late 20th century, the group has revived its sound with barely any lapse.
“Roots And Wings” sounds strangely familiar—almost indistinguishable from a Tom Petty classic. Presenting nostalgic undertones and additional end-verse guitar riffs, this song is almost an exhumation of ’70s rock. It forgoes the past 50 years of music and plays like no time has passed at all, almost as a breacher of history’s musical timeline. A gem, nonetheless.
But their long-endured successes such as “One Headlight,” “The Difference” and “6th Avenue Heartache” were borne out of their quadruple-platinum album Bringing Down the Horse. This LP laid the foundation upon which frontman Jakob Dylan attempted to lead various lineups of the Wallflowers with all their negotiations, hiatuses and incremental changes. Yet Exit Wounds reincarnates the original lineup’s mid-90s sound with almost no recognizable aesthetical changes.
Achieving this success well is “The Dive Bar In My Heart,” playing on the eclecticism and warmth of the prime lineup. An emotional tune, but it delivers with reverbed guitar and is given dimension with the Hammond organ. It alludes to a bar chant with echoing group vocals and a friendly sound but maintains the professional and tight nature of the Wallflowers’ music.
This 10-track wonder separates itself from contemporary mannerisms. Dylan seems as comfortable playing similar rock music as he did earlier in his career, but with a new crew assembled in the late 2010s. It’s touching Americana—nurtured by the creativity of the past decade and matured to perfection. “Move The River” plays this well, striking with its instinctive instrumental jaunts and outcries of emotion.
The album’s opening track, “Maybe Your Heart’s Not In It No More,” is overshadowed by solid breaks of introspection. Dylan overlays these throughout the album but seems to find balance in countering these doubtful moments with slight self-deprecation. This molds into some beautiful and well-written songs, though a closer listen might have people opening some doors within they weren’t’ ready to face. Beware of songs like “I’ll Let You Down (But Will Not Give You Up),” as they walk this line well.
Dylan’s immeasurable experience and maturity further intensify his musical style. It might lack panache or a certain elegance some desire, but his rooted traditionalism is stabilized with this album. Greatly assisted by producer Butch Walker, this album forgoes modernisms for a taste of the past. Dylan’s simplicity is allowed to grow, giving subdued energy and elemental nature that accentuates each incorporated feature into the tapestry of this album. The album’s texture is what shows Dylan’s true mileage, though it’s only strengthened and honored more with the LP’s elemental sound.
Grand statements are omitted in Exit Wounds as the tracks rely on minuscule gestures and movements to find truth in Dylan’s introspection. This is a trait of the late Tom Petty or even the infamous father of Jakob, Bob Dylan. But this album is the expression of what The Wallflowers always were meant to be, as they finally have grown into the classic rock sound they were destined to fulfill.