Soundcheck: The Wallflowers’ Glad All Over
By Alexis Burnett
Opening with “Hospital for Sinners,” the album instantly boasts a fine-tuned rhythm correlating nicely with smooth lyrics containing imagery, such as in the opening lines, “Some have crosses / Bells that ring / Most have angels painted with wings.”
“Reboot the Mission,” featuring Mick Jones of The Clash, adds a more upbeat feeling, reflecting the band’s desire to start anew: “Eyes on the prize, reboot the mission / I’ve lost the sight, but not the vision.” Its underlying bass tones and punk rock, folksy sound make for a track that stands apart from any of the others with a harsh, British rock vibe to it. Earlier lines incite a sense of existential anxiety that reflect feelings associated with transition and the inevitability of change: “Where you’re going has no signs / And you’re not going in a straight line . . . Under the water more water / You keep diving and you won’t be recovered.”
“It’s A Dream” combines piano with clashing drums and the occasional wailing electric riff, with which vocalist Jakob Dylan’s voice harmonizes just as well as an additional instrument: “I can’t let you sleep any longer my love / You look on the line here just where I was / you got to wake up.”
Dylan’s smooth, velvet tones with harmonic background acoustics stand out most of all in “Love is a Country,” which becomes one of the stronger songs on the album. Lyrics like, “In the desert that borders between me and you / Where more than a few good men have failed to come back or get through . . . The hardships of marching they’ve only just begun / Love is a country better crossed when you’re young” make it evident this album was conceptualized well and doesn’t try to please the general audience. One of the Wallflowers’ greatest attributes is knowing how to blend music and dapple it with alluring poetic lyrics which understate a deeper meaning.
Glad All Over is alluring in a soft, nostalgic way that is genuine, thoughtful and does not at all resemble a “retro” album trying too hard to recall its audience back into the past. With tributes to roots rock through simple tempos, bass strumming, rhythmic drums and organs, it presents a new way of looking at an old kind of music. Each track is different with a harmonizing theme to build on the album as a whole, while still maintaining strong individual songs. The album in its entirety shows The Wallflowers can run circles around less experienced bands in regards to sound and quality.
It’s not groundbreaking and hardly oversteps previous albums like Bringing Down the Horse, but Glad All Over presents a brand of genuineness and level of thought not often seen in the modern music world.
Best Tracks: “Hospital for Sinners,” “Love is a Country”