Album Reviews: Rebel, Sweetheart by The WallflowersCan anyone write a piece on The Wallflowers without mentioning the frontman's father? I guess I just did, too. I'd like to point out that Jakob Dylan never told anyone he was going to change the face of music like his father. He doesn't have great vocal range and his lyrics aren't jaw-droppingly original, but you always get the sense that he believes what he's singing about. There's an every guy sincerity and passion to him that you wouldn't expect from the son of a legend.
He actually sounds more like he was raised and groomed in Jersey by Springsteen. The themes, pop hooks and delivery all borrow heavily from The Boss. The album is chock full of potential hit singles (if there was a station that'd deem them cool enough). Unfortunately the tepid single, "The Beautiful Side of Somewhere," won't help them get much attention on the radio this time around. They sound more like Jersey-via-Jovi (circa Slippery When Wet era) on that particular track. But it is sandwiched between two of the album's standout tracks -- "The Passenger" and "Here He Comes (Confessions of a Drunked Marionette)." They're both fine examples of Brendan O'Brien's simple yet textured production being a perfect fit for this straightforward pop-rock album.
The Wallflowers have never pretended to be something they're not. Whatever's hip in the music scene at any given time is seemingly irrelevant to them (and I mean that as a compliment). Unless blue-collar bar rock becomes the sound du jour in the next month or so, Rebel, Sweetheart will unfortunately go unnoticed. Which is a shame, because it's yet another solid album from The Wallflowers. - Doug Kamin
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