Music Reviews

posted: February 14, 2009

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Jakob Dylan – Seeing Things Seeing Things

Columbia CD
Jakob Dylan – Seeing Things

Once freed from the constraints of the middle-of-the-road sensibilities of The Wallflowers, Jakob Dylan has found himself…on a country road in the middle of Appalachia. Many singer-songwriters are using the traditions and conventions of Americana to express a sort of sincerity and purity these days, but Dylan seems inspired by this genre shift and delivers his first solo album in a way that few music critics predicted.  No wonder his dad never produced a worthy follow-up to Nashville Skyline…maybe Bob was waiting for his progeny to deliver on that promise.

Seeing Things was recorded in the Hollywood Hills home of producer Rick Rubin, which explains the aforementioned purity.  Rubin is famous for stripping down established artists and exposing their naked talents, and Jakob is up to the challenge.

I always felt that while he was in the Wallflowers, Dylan clutched tenuously to some of his father’s vocal mannerisms as if he was providing a bridge to a new generation of fans.  On this collection of songs, Jakob’s voice is richer, deeper and clearer than his father, effectively diluting any comparisons.

This isn’t about a man and a guitar, however, like the American Recordings series Rubin did with Johnny Cash.  Dylan is backed up with a spare yet talented trio including David Ferguson, Jason Boesel and Z. Berg (all listed merely as “musicians”).  Sometimes Jakob goes it alone, however, playing bass and guitar on songs such as “Valley of the Low Sun,” and confidently evoking his father while calling out “Hold on for the slow turning/Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em boys/This is bottom hiding out.” When it comes to lyrical invention, Jakob isn’t quite his father, but at least he’s his father’s son, which at times is more than enough.

–Marc Phillips