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Album review: Jakob Dylan's 'Women and Country'

April 5, 2010 |  9:53 am

J_dylan_women_country_240 The son of a legend, Jakob Dylan would seemingly have all the cred one could need. But after five albums with modern rock outfit the Wallflowers, each with a declining chart impact, and one rather quiet solo acoustic effort with 2008’s “Seeing Things,” a creative and career revitalization is in order. Teaming with alt-country scorchers Neko Case and Kelly Hogan certainly can’t hurt the effort.

Add a former collaborator and veteran producer in T Bone Burnett, and the resulting “Women and Country” is as rootsy and elegant as all the aforementioned resumes would foretell. It’s a comfortable fit for the hushed-voiced artist. “Truth for A Truth” accentuates Dylan’s sense of melody with steel guitar shading, a Wild West strut and seductive barking harmonies, while the three vocalists are up to something far more haunting on “Down On Our Own Shield.” 

Yet one can’t shake the feeling that the real star here is Burnett. Pairing Dylan with a number of musicians who helped shape the Burnett-produced Robert Plant-Alison Krauss collaboration “Raising Sand,” the 11 tracks of “Women and Country” are similarly dressed with low-key Americana atmospherics. The results, however, are mixed. 

“They’ve Trapped Us Boys” has a saloon feel and out-of-nowhere backing vocals, yet “Lend a Hand,” despite a horn section that could be backing Cab Calloway, is more forced than lively, and all the textures in the country rulebook can’t rescue “Yonder Come the Blues” from lullaby status. Worse, Case and Hogan are relegated largely to backing duty, as if to provide a sense of mystery that wasn't there from the start.

-- Todd Martens 

Jakob Dylan
"Women and Country"
Columbia Records
Two and a half stars (Out of four)