Bringing Down The Horse

The Wallflowers

Interscope, 1996

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Adapted from a review that originally appeared in On The Town Magazine 3/4/97]

It's tough enough simply to achieve any semblance of normalcy in life when you're the child of a famous parent (just ask Michael Jackson’s kids in twenty years or so). But when the product of a major musical figure chooses to follow directly in the famous parent's footsteps, you have to observe the attempt with a mixture of hope and pity. In the wake of every Natalie Cole, achieving success, respect and an artistic identity of her own, lies the sad story of several struggling Julian Lennons, trying, and falling short, and trying again to live up to the impossibly large shadow of a revered parent.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But spare Jakob Dylan—son of Bob and singer/songwriter/leader of The Wallflowers—your pity. True, young Master Dylan avoided the temptations of music for nearly twenty years before finally succumbing as a young adult, and the initial result was The Wallflowers' tepid, meandering self-titled 1992 debut. Bringing Down The Horse, however, revealed a retooled Wallflowers lineup as a tight and confident band ready to move Dylan the younger into the select ranks of artistically successful inhabitants of rock's second generation.

Songwriter Jakob often reflects his father's folk roots and sensibilities, offering many a wise-beyond-his-years, ever-so-slightly-tongue-in-cheek observation. There's even the requisite wheezy Hammond organ fresh from one of Pop's mid-'60s outings, and an occasional, eerily soundalike growling mumble.

But stop me before I compare again, because what this band is really about is recapturing the rootsy rock and roll sound for the modern era. The instrumentation is retro, but the songs, from the oddly contemplative rocker "One Headlight" to the surrealistic psychodrama of "Three Marlenas," from the wise, witty ballad "Invisible City" ("cheap lovers make expensive wives") to the "grow up" message and dynamite hook of the driving "The Difference," are decidedly modern. It's a stylistic stance mirrored by Counting Crows, so it shouldn't surprise that head Crow Adam Duritz shows up for the rolling urban narrative of "6th Avenue Heartache." (What is it about numbered streets and rock songs? Bob's "Positively 4th Street," Springsteen's "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and now this...).

"The Wallflowers—Returning Smart, Rootsy Rock To The Spotlight." Now isn't that a much better slogan than "My Dad Was A '60s Icon, So Buy My Album"?

Rating: B+

User Rating: B-



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