- Cullman, Alabama


April 11, 2011

PLAYBACK: The Wallflowers saved the best for last

Album review

CULLMAN — Known mostly for his famous father, Jakob Dylan built his early career simultaneously riding musical coattails, and trying to escape the thousand-foot shadow cast by his father.

But, in the mid-to-late 2000s, Bob Dylan’s youngest son finally made the kind of album his father would be proud of — the only problem was that not many people found it.

After exploding onto the scene with his band The Wallflowers and the quad-Platinum disc Bringing Down the Horse in 1996, buoyed by radio-friendly hits like “One Headlight,” “6th Avenue Heartache,” and “Three Marlenas,” Jakob was being heralded as the new voice of a generation.

But, that potential floundered over the course of his next two proper releases, with Breach in 2000 and Red Letter Days in 2002 failing to reach the level of mass hysteria set in the mid-1990s.

Though Jakob would soon go the solo route in 2008 and put The Wallflowers on indefinite hiatus, he took one final stab under The Wallflowers moniker with 2005’s Rebel, Sweetheart. Pronounced with “Rebel” as a verb, as opposed to a noun, the last proper album from The Wallflowers is arguably the group’s best.

It seems almost fitting that Rebel, Sweetheart would come along nearly 10 years after Bringing Down the Horse shredded the charts and set unattainable expectations for the band, as it took nearly 10 years for Dylan to match true songwriting ability with the accessibility of his breakout album.

Rebel, Sweetheart doesn’t just fit in well with The Wallflowers’ catalog — this is an album I believe could fall in line with some of the better works of daddy Dylan himself. It took four tries to make the perfect Wallflowers album, but it was well worth the wait.

Jakob dabbles with political overtures in his songwriting, like on album opener “Days of Wonder,” but stays on point and never gets heavy-handed with his message.

Roots rock takes like “The Beautiful Side of Somewhere,” and “We’re Already There” could have easily been hits, had this album found any true mainstream success; and the contemplative “God Says Nothing Back” is worth the price of admission alone.

The production also feels much more organic on Rebel, Sweetheart, with the glossier sounds and crisp production of Breach and Red Letter Days taking a back seat to a more gritty and live sound.

Though he is now focused more on his acoustic-based solo albums (the albeit uneven 2008 Seeing Things is a great disc), Rebel, Sweetheart deserves acclaim as the most even-keeled Wallflowers album ever produced. If you ever wondered whatever happened to Bob Dylan’s son, wonder no more: He finally did live up to the lofty family name, and Rebel, Sweetheart is proof enough.

Text Only
  • EDITORIAL: Gaining a lifetime of success

    The arguments for a deeper investment in the arts for public school children are overwhelmingly favorable. The money is simply not following the logic.

    April 6, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Gun bill backfires

    State Sen. Scott Beason, a Gardendale Republican, who will soon vacate his seat, is feeling a sense of disappointment that his bill to allow Alabamians to carry loaded handguns in their cars without a concealed weapon permit was shot down this week.

    April 5, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Above and beyond

    The announcement of the annual Distinguished Citizen and Unsung Heroes recipients by The Cullman Times has revealed another lineup of caring people who go the extra mile in building a better local community.

    April 3, 2014

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Enough is enough, stop child abuse now

    In 2013, 32 children died in Alabama as the direct result of child abuse.

    April 2, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A chance to lead growth

    In an era that concluded about a generation ago, residents of any average town or city in America had pretty much one destination for shopping.

    April 2, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Out of date, out of time

    The Alabama State Constitution, one of the nation’s oldest at 113 years old, continues to linger despite a wide range of efforts to completely rewrite the document.

    April 2, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A private matter on display

    Following the arguments generated by legalized abortion leave many people in this generation walking away from the issue with a sense of confusion.

    April 1, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Drug policy sensible, needed

    Cullman City School officials’ decision to slow plans for implementing a student drug testing program was reached after a series of public input meetings.

    April 1, 2014

  • Commentary: Why your Facebook friends are so gullible

    These stories aren't real. They're the work of the New Yorker's not-particularly-funny online satirist Andy Borowitz, but many people, not just your gullible Facebook friends, invariably believe them. Sometimes the official state news agencies of global superpowers believe them.

    March 19, 2014

  • news_ryan.jpg COMMENTARY: 8 sly code words and why politicians love them

    When Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., talked about a "real culture problem" in "our inner cities in particular" last week, he wasn't the first American politician to be slammed for using racially coded language to get a point across.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo