On May 21st, my favorite Nineties album turns twenty years old.
Much like Jakob Dylan’s wearily melodic lyrics and vocals, revisiting Bringing Down The Horse makes me feel nostalgically weathered and youthfully empowered.
While The Wallflowers critically and commercially successful sophomore effort isn’t as highly regarded or widely remembered as some of its Grammy nominee company (including Crash, OK Computer, Yourself Or Someone Like You, Tragic Kingdom, or its closest genetic competition – Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind), the 11-track T Bone Burnett production is a musical time capsule and one of my formative decade’s greatest records.
With logical composition and palpable tonal chemistry, Bringing Down The Horse flows like the beautifully devastating Golden State Warriors offense. “One Headlight” is the flashy, yet fundamentally flawless standout opener with a once-in-a-generation chorus. Like Stephen Curry, it embodies an era that it helped mirror and shape. “6th Avenue Heartache” isn’t as recognizable, but it’s the glue that elevates everything (including former tourmate Adam Duritz’s haunting harmonies) that follows its emotional lead. It’s Young Dylan’s “Draymond Green.”
“The Difference,” “Laughing Out Loud,” and “God Don’t Make Lonely Girls” couldn’t sound more different than “Invisible City,” “Josephine,” and “I Wish I Felt Nothing,” but they somehow complement and enrich each other. It’s a collection better suited for vinyl than Spotify.
After releasing three solid, underappreciated follow-ups (Breach, Red Letter Days, and Rebel, Sweetheart) The Wallflowers took a 7-year hiatus before returning with 2012’s underwhelming Glad All Over. With only two shows planned in 2016, it doesn’t seem like Dylan, keyboardist/Foo Fighter Rami Jaffee, current drummer/founding Red Hot Chili Pepper Jack Irons, and their fellow touring members will formally commemorate Bringing Down The Horse‘s anniversary by bringing it back on the road.
Their lack of sentimentality feels somewhat fitting. Nothing is forever.