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CD Review: Jakob Dylan

Women + Country (Columbia)


Romance, melancholy leavened by bursts of joy, and stubbornly individualist politics permeate Jakob Dylan's second solo album, a mesmerizing work that yields more nuance and depth each time you hear it. Dylan works with simpatico singers Neko Case and Kelly Hogan on several tracks, including the enigmatic "Down on Our Own Shield," the austere, lonely "We Don't Live Here Anymore," and the full-bodied, horn-speckled "Everybody's Hurting." The album's flow and swing are effortless, thanks to production by T Bone Burnett and backup by old Burnett hands like fiddler David Mansfield and pedal-steel player Greg Leisz. Having guitarist Marc Ribot, a mainstay of New York's avant-garde jazz scene, on board gives the music an edgy grace. Like many other Burnett productions — including the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' gorgeous Raising SandWomen + Country has an antique patina. Its music sounds organic, and its ambience is winningly and oddly ancient. Dylan's writing is evocative and vivid, replete with cinematic imagery. The boisterous, blowsy "Lend a Hand" could be a call to take up arms or to circle the wagons, and "Smile When You Call Me That" is a sweet, rich love song. It's easy to dismiss the son of Bob as a parvenu trading on his legacy. But the songs on this resonant, finely crafted album are earned, original, and addictive.

Carlo Wolff

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