Coming out of this “pause year” – or however you want to label the recent era of seemingly unending chaos – are The Wallflowers with a record that feels from first listen as if it was always on your shelf, beloved and well-worn, perpetually listenable on repeat. Exit Wounds, the first Wallflowers album since 2012’s Glad All Over is written for the times without rehashing, but more taking stock of where we are. “I think everybody – no matter what side of the aisle you’re on – wherever we’re going to next, we're all taking a lot of exit wounds with us,” says The Wallflowers’ founder and guiding light, Jakob Dylan. “Nobody is the same as they were four years ago. That, to me, is what Exit Wounds signifies. And it's not meant to be negative at all. It just means that wherever you’re headed, even if it’s to a better place, you leave people and things behind, and you think about those people and those things and you carry them with you. Those are your exit wounds. And right now, we’re all swimming in them.”
Wounding facets are explored throughout. Picking up and dusting off a partner only to have them fly away as in first single “Roots and Wings” leaves its own exit wound. As does a variety of our recent collective experiences. The processing of which we’ll need to complete to fully heal being something we’re only now starting to figure out. The songs explore these traumas though Dylan is hesitant to offer their meanings, “I'm always a little cautious when people ask that,” he says. “Not because it demystifies the songs, but more because I think it's belittling to the listener to have to be ‘told.’ I usually find that if you have to do that for someone, you probably didn't hit your mark.”
What he can explain is his formula for maintaining The Wallflowers classic sound over 30 years of subtly arresting songwriting while switching out players. “The Wallflowers has always been a vehicle for me to make great rock ‘n’ roll records,” Dylan explains. “And sometimes the lineup that makes the record transfers over into touring, and sometimes it doesn’t. But my intention is always to make the Wallflowers record I want to make, using the musicians I have beside me.”
Beside him on this ride for the first time is Shelby Lynne stepping in with backup vocals - a synced energy that was instant. “You can have your favorite singer come in, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have any connection – there has to be more than that, and as soon as I heard Shelby sing, I knew we had something,” Dylan says
Something indeed. “Roots and Wings” was added to 23 stations in its first week with more every week since, and is finding heavy rotation on WRLT, WFUV, WYEP, WMOT, KMTN, KRML, KDTR, and more. Exit Wounds is scheduled for release July 9, 2021.
Photo by Yasmin Than