The Wallflowers: Glad All Over

Glad All Over reinforces why the Wallflowers always had a lasting advantage over their '90s rock cohorts.

The Wallflowers

Glad All Over

Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2012-10-09
UK Release Date: 2012-10-08

Just two or three years ago the Wallflowers seemed doomed as a creative endeavor. The band had been on a creative hiatus since parting with Interscope in 2006 and its lead singer, Jakob Dylan, had leaped into an acoustic solo career in the vein of his endlessly surprising and talented father, Bob Dylan. In 2009, the Wallflowers released the death knell of many bands: a greatest hits collection. Collected: 1996-2005 was perhaps the least imaginatively curated collection ever, literally taking the first several tracks in order from each Wallflowers album starting with Bringing Down the Horse and dumping them onto Collected in chronological order. For a while it seemed inevitable that the band was just a few years away from relegation to '90s remembrance tours with other reformed acts like Third Eye Blind and Toad the Wet Sprocket.

But in 2011, Dylan dropped a bomb on Rolling Stone: the Wallflowers were working on a new album. The result is Glad All Over, a solid roots-rock record that reinforces why the Wallflowers always had a lasting advantage over their '90s rock cohort.

Dylan and company hit it big in 1996 with Bringing Down The Horse, a gem of '90s alt-rock, complete with guest vocals from Counting Crows front man Adam Duritz, that went platinum four times over. The band was never able to replicate that commercial success, but they did something more important. They never replicated that exact sound. Each ensuing Wallflowers album had a slightly different feel. Breach was bare and morose. Red Letter Days was heavy with keyboards and poetry. Rebel, Sweetheart brought a harder edge. Then, when Dylan couldn't fit his new desired sound into the Wallflowers oeuvre, he went solo and released two country/folk albums.

Predictably, Glad All Over doesn't sound like any of those other albums. It takes strains of the Wallflowers' wheelhouse alt-rock and marries them to rocksteady and a grab bag of other ideas. The influence of the '70s is apparent just by looking at the track list. The Clash guitarist Mick Jones appears on two tracks, "Misfits and Lovers" and lead single "Reboot The Mission", both of which have an unsurprising Clash-style backbeat. The bouncing near-boogie woogie and guitar solos of "Have Mercy on Him Now" recall musical eras long gone, as does the sweltering swamp-stomp morality tale "The Devil's Waltz".

Glad All Over doesn't put its best foot forward with "Hospital for Sinners", and "Reboot The Mission" is panderingly self-referential, literally welcoming the band's new drummer Jack Irons and paying lyrical homage to Mick Jones's former band mate "the mighty Joe Strummer". The rest of the album keeps the quality bar high, and the strongest stretch of songs comes on the album's second half, beginning with "Love Is A Country" and continuing through "Constellation Blues", the lyrics of which touch the edges of Dylan's father's unspeakable lyrical power.

"Love Is A Country" is a deeply moving song about empathy and honest emotion in a world seemingly fraught with endless danger, using the sonic poles of funeral piano chords and life-affirming cymbal crashes while Dylan sings with a conviction that doesn't sound like a band two decades old: "I'm watching the clouds overwhelming the evening sun / It's just after lightning and before thunder comes / When nothing really happens and suddenly then it does / Love is a country better served with someone". It's a song that will be overlooked by many, but it shouldn't be. It's the emotional core of the album, which from the pleas for divine guidance on "First One in the Car" to the self-affirmations of "One Set of Wings", hints at a band that has discovered, through the trials of being a long-time touring rock group, that love, patience and empathy are the only ways to survive in such a brutal career pursuit. As Dylan puts it, that "love is a country that won't be overcome". Or to put it a different way: for the first time in their long career, the Wallflowers sound like a band that might actually be glad all over.





Willie Jones Blends Country-Trap With Classic Banjo-Picking on "Trainwreck" (premiere)

Country artist Willie Jones' "Trainwreck" is an accessible summertime breakup tune that coolly meshes elements of the genre's past, present, and future.


2011's 'A Different Compilation' and 2014 Album 'The Way' Are a Fitting Full Stop to Buzzcocks Past

In the conclusion of our survey of the post-reformation career of Buzzcocks, PopMatters looks at the final two discs of Cherry Red Records' comprehensive retrospective box-set.


Elysia Crampton Creates an Unsettlingly Immersive Experience with ​'Ocorara 2010'

On Ocorara 2010, producer Elysia Crampton blends deeply meditative drones with "misreadings" of Latinx poets such as Jaime Saenz and Juan Roman Jimenez


Indie Folk's Mt. Joy Believe That Love Will 'Rearrange Us'

Through vibrant imagery and inventive musicality, Rearrange Us showcases Americana band Mt. Joy's growth as individuals and musicians.


"Without Us? There's No Music": An Interview With Raul Midón

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists," he says.


The Fall Go Transatlantic with 'Reformation! Post-TLC'

The Fall's Reformation! Post-TLC, originally released in 2007, teams Mark E. Smith with an almost all-American band, who he subsequently fired after a few months, leaving just one record and a few questions behind.


Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.


The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.


'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.


2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.


'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.


Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.