He’s a little bit country, and he’s a little bit rock‘n’roll.
Women + Country
Though he may be known as the spawn of the immortalized folk legend Bob Dylan or as the frontman of the Grammy-winning ’90s band The Wallflowers, Jakob Dylan makes a new name for himself with the debut of his newest solo album, Women and Country. In delving into some deep country roots (though he was born and raised in New York and Los Angeles, respectively), Dylan finds a new façade. After 2008’s Seeing Things, Dylan shies away from his earlier folk tendencies and explores a new land of country music.
On Women and Country, Dylan teamed up with two of alternative country’s leading ladies, Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, to produce an “authentic” country album. The soft background vocals provided by the two women as Dylan croons about the sultry South give a softer edge to Dylan’s new sound. Though he is not learned in more advanced southern stylings, Dylan takes his listeners on a successful trip to The Big Easy with jazzy horns on tracks like “Lend A Hand” and “We Don’t Live Here Anymore.”
The record creates a saloon-like feel with twangy guitars and rattlesnake percussion. Women and Country steals sounds from the rustic Wild West and the slow, bluesy Confederate states alike.
The first single off this album, “Nothing But the Whole Wide World” sets the record off by introducing the listener to Dylan’s new sound right off the bat. Though the avid Jakob Dylan fan may be a bit taken aback by the first track, the pleasant and airy pairing of Dylan’s and Case’s harmonies will ease the audience into the rest of the record. Dylan muses: “Got nothing but the whole wide, whole wide world to gain.” Though simplistic lyrics and melodies crop up on this track, the album as a whole is quite complexly produced.
Dylan digs the deepest into the bluegrass roots with “They’ve Trapped Us Boys.” He reminisces about nights with the guys as he sings: “Gentlemen where have we been / Ain’t goin’ nowhere now / I’ll let this bottle make its rounds/ And this liquor settle down / Ain’t goin’ nowhere now.” Mischievous tales of exciting southern nights are told with banjos and toe-tapping, feel-good melodies.
With such a shadow of expectation cast over him, Dylan tries to venture far from his father’s fame and create his own style. Still, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. As Dylan Sr. is well rounded in his musical choices, the younger Dylan attempts to follow in his father’s footsteps by trying out new genres. With Women and Country, Dylan attempts to touch upon his Americana roots while having both rocker and folk singer on his résumé — not too shabby.
Conversely, it’s somewhat confusing as to why Dylan would feel the need to venture off into diverse genres with such success in rock‘n’roll. With no real background in the southern lifestyle, how is it that Dylan can generate such a realistic sounding country album? Somehow the extremely talented musician gracefully slips into the country world.
Though the album is not exactly what normal listeners might be used to, Dylan’s artistry shines through. With lyrics so convincing and melodies so deeply embedded in country soil, one could almost be fooled that Dylan is solely a country musician.
Dylan takes a new path down a dirt road to the countryside with Women and Country, but one might not know what to expect next time around from the famous offspring of one of music’s greatest artists. Who knows? Maybe he’ll venture into pop-punk-raver-disco next? But let’s all hope he sticks to his real roots — producing great music.