Veteran rock/Americana rock band The Wallflowers released its latest album Friday to kick off the weekend. The band’s seventh album, it ends a nearly nine year wait for new music from the band. The band’s established audiences are the most likely to find the record appealing. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The album’s lyrical themes are also certain to appeal to a very targeted audience. They will be discussed a little later. The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted here is key in its own way to the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make the album a work that will find most of its appeal among The Wallflower’s established audience base.
The Wallflowers’ latest album Exit Wounds is a presentation that will appeal to a very targeted audience. That audience in question is the band’s established audience base. More casual listeners will find the album more appealing only in hearing it only occasionally. That is proven in part through the album’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are largely everything that audiences have come to expect from the band throughout its life. The same folksy/rock hybrid style sounds and arrangements are just as evident here as in the band’s existing catalog. The thing is that most of the songs, which are also easily comparable to works from Bruce Springsteen, are also noticeably melancholy in their sound and approach. That is also something that is normal from the band. However, there are some variants, such as the more pop rock style ‘The Dive bAr in My Heart’ (one can easily infer what this song is about just from that title) and in the much more Rolling Stones-esque ‘Who’s That Man Walking ‘Round My Garden?’ Of course the prior, with its more pop style sound and approach, is still akin to existing works from The Wallflowers in its own right, too. For the most part though, the record’s musical arrangements are mostly everything that audiences have come to expect. The surprises are few here. That is not to say that the record’s musical arrangements are a fail, but rather that they will appeal to the noted targeted audience.
Just as the musical portion of Exit Wounds will appeal to a specific audience base, so will its lyrical themes. The songs’ titles make relatively clear that the majority of those themes center on the topic of relationships. Case in point is the title ‘Darlin’ Hold On’ and another title, ‘The Daylight Between Us.’ Titles are just one thing, of course. A deeper look into the songs’ lyrics make this even clearer. The very lead verse of the album’s opener serves even more to support the noted statements. The song opens with front man Jakob Dylan singing, “There’s no fire beneath the smoke/No one’s got you up by the coat/Not a razor up to your throat/You can go anytime through the door/Maybe your heart’s not in it no more.” This is a clear, straight forward message. It is one person telling another that no one is making that second person do anything, and it just looks like that second person just doesn’t want to make the relationship work. The song’s second verse adds to the statement as Dylan sings, “It’s gone quiet/It’s gone cold/Acting like someone you don’t know/Used to rumble/Used to roar/Whatever it’s doing, it didn’t before/Maybe your heart’s not in it no more.” This is simple in its own way, too. The subject is saying things just aren’t what they were anymore. The song’s third verse follows in similar fashion, making even clearer, the song’s lyrical theme. That revelation serves even more to prove the statement that this record generally presents one specific theme.
As if that is not proof enough, a song, such as ‘Wrong End of the Spear’ hints at the theme of a relationship, too. Without a lyrics sheet to reference some of the content is difficult to decipher. However, just enough can be understood in this country-western style song that it can be inferred that the song is also centered on that noted topic. Dylan sings here about a person who apparently runs away at the first sign of trouble, leaving the song’s subject “on the wrong end of the spear.” In the song’s finale, the subject even mournfully makes note of that second person being gone, nowhere to be found. All of this again points to someone who is in a relationship that is anything but healthy.
Even in the aforementioned Rolling Stones-esque ‘Who’s That Man Walking ‘Round in My Garden?’ audiences get a song that seems to be about a relationship. In this case, the song’s subject sings in the lead verse about coming home after a long day, doesn’t expect any complaints, but he has to wonder “who’s that man walking ‘round in my garden?” This is a man who is seemingly wondering if his woman is cheating on him. He even adds in the song’s second verse, “under my nose/The lock is undone/Who is that man walking ‘round in my garden?” Again, this certainly comes across as a song about a man who suspects his woman is not being faithful. This after he mentions, “taking names.” This sure doesn’t seem like anything about anything but a relationship near its end. It is one more way in which the album’s lyrical themes show that they are apparently mostly about relationships. This is, again, something that will appeal more to the band’s established audiences more than casual listeners.
The musical and lyrical content featured throughout Exit Wounds’ body makes clear why it will appeal to a specific audience. Even with all of that examined, it is just part of the record that deserves examination. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. The sequencing is important to examine because of the noted general sense established through the arrangements. The arrangements are, again, mostly very melancholy in their sound and approach. This means that those behind the boards had to pay special attention to each work so that audiences would not be left feeling completely depressed by the album’s end. Luckily, that painstaking effort paid off for the most part. The song starts off in quite melancholy fashion in ‘Maybe Your Heart’s Not In It No More’ but then picks up noticeably in the decidedly Tom Petty-influenced ‘Roots and Wings.’ This is important to note because lyrically, even this song focuses on a relationship that has reached its end. That energy continues on even into the obvious breakup song that is ‘The Dive Bar in My Heart.’ It is not until ‘Darlin’ Hold On,’ the album’s midpoint, that the album pulls its energy back again. Things pick right back up from there in ‘Move The River’ but then pulls right back again in ‘I’ll Let You Down (But I Won’t Give Up).’ The ups and downs of the album’s energy continues from there right to the album’s finale, ‘The Daylight Between Us.’ Looking back through all of this, is obvious that much time and thought was put into the album’s sequencing. The changes in the songs’ moods (and energies) is just subtle enough from one to the next to keep things interesting for the noted audiences. This aesthetic element works with the album’s content to even further solidify the album’s appeal among those listeners as a result. Keeping all of this in mind, the album proves worth hearing at least once among the band’s established audiences and more casual listeners.
The Wallflowers’ latest album, Exit Wounds, is a presentation that the band’s established will appreciate. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question largely display a familiar sound and stylistic approach that is evident in the band’s existing catalog. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements seems to follow one central topic, that of relationships. That centrality ensures even more, appeal among a very set audience. The record’s sequencing ensures that even with all of this in mind, its mood and energy remains as stable as possible. This even considering the melancholy nature of so much of the album’s content. The changes in the moods and energies are just subtle enough from one to the next that it keeps audiences just engaged enough. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record. All things considered, they make the album worth hearing at least once, but sadly not much more, unless one is among the band’s established audience base. Exit Wounds is available now through New West Records. More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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