Through the years, the Waterboys have adopted whatever persona or fancy Mike Scott held at a given point in time. Hence, this band has fluctuated from the pop/rock of the early- to mid-'80s to the ensuing folk period to the aimless early '90s, which yielded Dream Harder. That was their swan song, which alienated Waterboys fans who grew to cherish the previous two releases, Room to Roam and Fisherman's Blues. That apparently didn't concern Scott too much, since he equates the individual (himself) with the band in no uncertain terms: "[T]o me there's no difference between Mike Scott and the Waterboys; they both mean the same thing. They mean myself and whoever are my current travelling musical companions." Appropriately, A Rock in the Weary Land fuses the complexity, grandeur, and simplicity that have characterized Scott's music in the past. This is the recording that the homogenous Dream Harder failed to become. It's ambitious, moody, surreal, and relevant. Scott terms the renewed sound of the Waterboys as "sonic rock," in which he incorporates all of the elements and possibilities of modern rock (which he finds compatible) into a uniform, technically updated body of work. Various distorted and synthesized effects are utilized throughout this album, but typically so are the psychedelic tendencies that Scott has always held dear. John Lennon influences seem to surface frequently, both vocally and compositionally, most notably on "Is She Conscious." And, as virtually all Mike Scott projects (both solo and group) will reveal, much of the content revolves around the struggle, confusion, and inspiration that his growing faith elicits.
AllMusic Review by Dave Sleger