It couldn’t have been by accident that the Wiltern Theatre’s stage lights were angled Thursday night so that Jakob Dylan’s signature fedora rendered the upper part of his face obscured for much of his homecoming concert.
For much of the supernaturally gripping material on his exceptional new “Women + Country” album deals with the shadowy parts of life, ghosts and vacated homes and hearts.
Those songs served as the anchor for what Dylan described as his first show in Los Angeles proper in eight years, for which he was joined by singers Neko Case and Kelly Hogan and Case’s band, Three Legs. The hometown crowd also got a cameo appearance at the end of the evening by “Women + Country” producer T Bone Burnett, who strapped on an electric guitar and spun out some of his inimitably tremulous lead lines.
The other musicians weren’t so much Dylan’s support staff as equal partners in a bold collaboration that has allowed the 40-year-old singer and songwriter to reach new musical vistas.
The challenge for any artist who creates as organically complete and artistically satisfying a work as “Women + Country” is how to present it live. Assuming he wasn’t inclined to follow his contrarian dad’s lead and just ignore a new album entirely, the two choices were to deliver it in its entirety, as Peter Gabriel just did last week at the Hollywood Bowl with his “Scratch My Back” album, or serve it up in chunks interspersed with other material spanning a career.