Some of the first words Jakob Dylan utters in his roots purr on The Wallflowers debut album in nearly a decade are “maybe your heart is gone.”
It’s a shrug of a statement to a romantic partner, but also a clever twist from one of rock’s most introspective poets.
Dylan’s heart is always in his job, to the point that he always thinks about songs, always writes them – except on tour, when he focuses on live performances – and always compartmentalizes ideas.
That Dylan and his Wallflowers’ new album, “Exit Wounds,” released on July 9, comes nine years after the band’s last effort, “Glad All Over,” is no anomaly for the son of the legend of the music Bob.
Dylan typically takes several years between releases. Even the Wallflowers’ hit 1996 breakthrough, “Bringing Down the Horse” with hits “One Headlight” and “6th Avenue Heartache”, did not produce a follow-up for four years (“Breach”).
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For “Exit Wounds,” Dylan took his usual measured approach to songwriting.
“You write about how things affect you,” he told USA TODAY from Los Angeles. “I’m not a big fan of slogans, but I also know that I can’t write today like I did five years ago.”
Recorded in Los Angeles at producer Butch Walker’s studio, all 10 tracks were packed within weeks in early 2020. As with previous Wallflowers records, Dylan faces a rotating cast of musicians.
“(The Wallflowers) will always be my thing and I will always be the center of it,” says Dylan. “Every time I go back, some people will make sense and some won’t. It’s an ongoing evolution. There isn’t a single team that has made two records.
The majority of players on “Exit Wounds” are members of Walker’s regular group: bassist Whynot Jansveld; keyboardist Aaron Embry; drummer Mark Stepro and Walker himself on guitars, keyboards and, on the merry “Who’s That Man Walking ‘Round My Garden”, the all-important cowbell.
“It’s fun having a sandbox full of people, and it felt appropriate (to use my group),” Walker from Los Angeles said. “These guys supported me and Jakob at the fundraisers that we had together and it’s always a fun party, so I was like, ‘Man, let’s just use my guys. “So it was not a job for hire.
At Dylan’s suggestion, Walker also recruited guitarist Val McCallum, who performed with Jackson Browne and Shelby Lynne. The reunion culminated in Lynne writing for some of the more robust moments of “Exit Wounds” – the presence of her husky voice on four songs.
Although Dylan says he doesn’t usually look for guests, he wanted a female duet partner for “Darlin ‘Hold On”, a smoky, singing ballad. Walker inquired and Lynne joined the team in the studio.
“We had the song ready for her. I think she’s done it maybe twice and then I thought if she’s here and wants to sing (more) look how easy it is for her, “says Dylan, 51. “It was a small group of people that were making this album and she was having a good time and just got into the band for the album.” He adds, laughing, “It’s hard to stand out next to Shelby singing. She is so good. If she asks me to come on a song, I’m going to need some time.
Lynne is also featured on “Move the River”, one of the album’s most anthemic songs, which features a choppy guitar line reminiscent of many 70s rock songs.
“Oh yeah, there’s (David) Bowie, there’s The Clash, there’s (Bruce) Springsteen,” Walker says. “There’s this grandiose single note piano thing that Springsteen would do and the guitar is kind of a skank guitar like The Clash. The common bond between Jakob and I is our record collection and he’s a huge Clash fan.
With so many songs on “Exit Wounds” set to flourish in a live setting, Dylan is understandably disappointed that a 53-date arena tour with Matchbox Twenty has been postponed for the second time until 2022.
“This summer you have people dying to go to shows. I just hope that by next summer they won’t be tired, ”says Dylan.
But The Wallflowers will be playing a handful of smaller gigs this fall – including The Fillmore in San Francisco, The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, and The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey – and Dylan has changed his expectations of his return to the stage accordingly. .
“It’s not going to be completely normal right now, but everyone will take whatever we can get that is normal,” he says. “I think people’s demands for having a good time have adjusted.”