The Wallflowers were always centred around Jakob Dylan. However, the eternally junior Dylan only recently made the band a full-fledged solo project, leading longtime keyboardist Rami Jaffee to find refuge under Dave Grohl’s benevolent dictatorship as a permanent member of the Foo Fighters.
Once a cutting edge group that positioned Dylan as a culturally relevant figure in his own right, The Wallflowers have since settled comfortably into a nostalgia-tinged existence that allows Dylan to make films that celebrate Laurel Canyon’s explosion in the ’70s and leaves him time to tour with Matchbox Twenty. Dylan, for his part, looks and sounds exactly the same now as he did when he sang about Headlights, Heartaches, and Marlenas back in 1996, so it’s safe to assume you already know what the new Wallflowers single sounds like.
None of this should come as a knock to ‘Roots and Wings’, the first single off of the band’s upcoming seventh studio album Exit Wounds. I know what all new AC/DC songs sound like before they come out, but that doesn’t make me like them any less. It’s the same deal with ‘Roots and Wings’: folksy, hooky, and directly indebted to classic rock, it has all the features you’d want, and expect, from a Wallflowers song, down to Dylan’s inimitable rasp waxing poetic about flighty romances.
Dylan takes on the role of the lothario in ‘Roots and Wings’, claiming credit for all the swagger and sway that this person might have. “I showed you how to swing/I showed you how to strut/That’s my mojo you’re using/That’s my wine getting you drunk”. It’s got a few clever turns of phrase that we’ve come to expect from the Dylan family and a slide guitar solo that you’d be hard-pressed to find in any mainstream songs these days. “Retro” probably isn’t a term that a malcontent like Dylan would enjoy having tagged on his music, but it’s meant to show that Jakob has established his own signature sound and can now exploit it in any way he wants, outside of the shadow of certain family members. If that’s not a pop music success story, I don’t know what is.
Check out the audio for ‘Roots and Wings’ down, below.