Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Other Ghost Of Tom Joad

Jakob Dylan goes blowin in the wind on his new album

and a half

Jakob Dylan's new album Women & Country is an album I have to fight through a whole lotta internal conflict to listen to. That's because it's a project that seems so rigged for a certain audience to like, it's hard not to feel a little manipulated when hearing it even though it's done subtly. You don't need me to tell you times are tough with the economy, foreign relations, personal relationships and a loss of national virtue banging down our doors every day. But history has proven we would like Bob Dylan to tell us about it. Or if he's not going to do it, maybe his son?

From the title (Women & Country, way to narrow down your subject matter) to the T Bone Burnett production smearing tattered flag Americana all over the soundscape, Jakob Dylan positions himself as the "new Dylan". Lots of guitar slidin and pickin, dirge rhythms and Salvation Army band horns set the stage for world weary tales of woe. Well, at least the kid has the birthright to do it.

Setting aside all this stuff, how good is the album itself? Surprisngly, it's more often good than not. "Nothing But The Whole Wide World", "We Don't Live Here Anymore" and "Everybody's Hurting" meets its reach in speaking to the masses living in what's presented as a modern day dustbowl depression. And the ballad "Smile When You Call Me That" is absolutely heartbreaking.

Some of the songs are too slight to carry the heavy messenger delivery utilized here but none of them are embarassing. It's an album that grows over time, better with each listen. I haven't bought anything of Jakob Dylan's since that famous Wallflowers album, this disc is good enough to call for a reevaluation of his catalog. Women & Country is no landmark classic, yet in these times of struggle it will do nicely.

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