Inner City Front continues the urban toughness that moved to the forefront on Bruce Cockburn's previous release, Humans. Furthermore, like that record, there's an uneasiness that runs throughout, from the jazz-tinged opener, "You Pay Your Money and You Take Your Chance," to the disquieting "Loner," which closes the album. Even a love song like "Wanna Go Walking," one of the most straightforward rockers he's ever recorded, reflects the weight of the outside world. Only the jazzy instrumental "Radio Shoes" and the joyful "And We Dance" remain free of this underlying tension. Musically, moody synths, violin, and woodwinds on Inner City Front underscore the dark, reflective nature of the material, which like its predecessor, deals with the "paradox and contrast" in the human condition, from personal relationships to world affairs. Also, for the second consecutive recording, Cockburn eschews the folkier, acoustic leanings of his '70s work and places both feet squarely into the jazz and worldbeat rock that dominated the majority of Humans. One track, "The Strong One," is even given a slow, brooding, techno treatment. Since the release of In the Falling Dark, Cockburn was gaining creative momentum with each release, and Inner City Front continues that trend.
AllMusic Review by Brett Hartenbach