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CD Review - The Wallflowers

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& & by Sheri Boggs & & & &





A recent story in Rolling Stone on the Wallflowers relates an anecdote in which frontman Jakob Dylan turns to guitarist Michael Ward after the band had just accepted their gold records for Bringing Down the Horse and says "I don't know if I want this one to go platinum." The album did go platinum, quadruple platinum to be exact, and whether they wanted it or not, the Wallflowers had all the mainstream fame they could handle.


Fortunately, the Wallflowers are still in full bloom. Sounding much more like vintage Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers than Jakob's famously gravel-voiced sire, their pairing of surefooted roots rock and Jakob's ragged vocals finds welcoming new territory on this album.


From the southern gospel of "Mourning Train" to the scorching first single "Letters from the Wasteland," Breach is as personal as the Wallflowers previous work, but benefits from a subtler approach. Dylan's songwriting is one of the band's most obvious strengths, and this album is proof that he's only honed his craft in the four years since Bringing Down the Horse. Lines like "Sam Cooke didn't know what I know" lodge gently in the brain for days, but are nothing compared to the poetry of songs like "I've Been Delivered." Pairing lush Baroque layers with the lyrics "I could break free/from the wood of a coffin/if I need/ but nothing's hard as/getting free of places/I've already been," it emerges as a hymn for cynical romantics.

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