Women & Country
If Jakob Dylan’s plan on his second solo album was to sound like his dad, then he achieved his goal. On the very folky Women & Country, Dylan strips his sound to a minimalist, acoustic vibe that is accented by a couple of high-profile background vocalists.
When I first put the album in and the opening acoustics of “Nothing But the Whole Wide World” started, I couldn’t figure out whether this was a Jakob Dylan or Bob Dylan album. Then Jakob started singing, and I still didn’t know which Dylan was singing. Producer T-Bone Burnett (Robert Plant and Allison Krauss’ Raising Sand, the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack) knows roots music and Americana better than any other producer in the world and channeled Jakob Dylan’s inner Bob Dylan to create one of the best roots albums of the year.
“They’ve Trapped Us Boys” sounds like a polished up version of a Ralph Stanley song, while “Down on Our Own Shield” is a sparse, but throbbing acoustic track that would be right at home on O Brother Where Art Thou?
“Everybody’s Hurting” is the perfect combination of everything that Dylan does best. The traditional Americana beat underscores Dylan’s best… well… Dylan, fused with beautiful harmonies by Kelly Hogan and Neko Case (yes, that Neko Case), who add gorgeous vocals to eight of the 11 tracks on the album. The song also highlights Dylan’s lyrics, which are much more cohesive and beautiful than anything he has done with The Wallflowers, topped off with the lines, “We’d sell this valley if we could and go north/ Where the sun sets, dripping buckets of gold/ Through snow-topped thunderheads and rows of wind clouds/ Coming down this mountain, how sweet salvation sounds.”
Women & Country is by far Jakob Dylan’s best album, either solo or collaboratively. T-Bone Burnett found the perfect backdrop for Dylan’s voice and lyrics and (with the vocal help of Hogan and Case) has made one of the top Americana/roots albums of the year, if not one of the best albums of the year overall. This is a must listen.
Jakob Dylan: www.jakobdylan.com