Because of a former roommate, I shut the door on Jakob Dylan. While my roommate played Dylan’s hit, “One Headlight” repeatedly, I escaped to my bedroom where I could listen to something else. She sang random bars from his songs all day. She shattered the few quiet moments in the apartment to blather on about Dylan’s “cuteness.” When she wasn’t doing any of that, she was comparing him favorably with Bob Dylan, saying that his father couldn’t sing or write a single good song —not a one. It just kept getting worse until finally that damned song and its follow-up, “ 6th Avenue Heartache ” finally slunk off the charts. Slowly, I managed to regain a sense of self and as I resurrected the shattered pieces of my life, my roommate went on to worship someone else.
Meanwhile, while he was away from the “One Headlight” glare, Jakob Dylan seems to have matured into something more than the “cute” progeny of someone famous (who writes songs that are bit Springsteen-lite). His new album Women and Country is a solid effort, and quite different from his earlier work. Women and Country still has more than a few catchy songs, but now they’re imbued with something deeper—that kind of Americana that seems to produce the best country songs (he also uses T-Bone Burnett as his producer, and Neko Case and her band to back him up. Expect steel guitars and plenty of horns that might remind you of a laidback Herb Alpert, or such later day bands as Calexico).
The new songs are now less about Springsteen (while still retaining some of the Boss’s subject matter—unemployment, poverty, and the lives of the underclass). They’re now closer to Jakob Dylan’s father—by way of Daddy Dylan’s acolytes, such as Bon Iver and the like. One of the strongest songs on the album, “Nothing but the Whole Wide World,” puts in a good word for God. While normally such a thing would make me want to go out and break some commandments, “Whole Wide World” is catchy enough to makes me just hum along. I’m not going to lose my mind over this album—not like my old roommate, but it’s filled with songs I’m going to keep.
They’ve Trapped Us Boys
Nothing but the Whole Wide World
Holy Rollers for Love
Bio: Meakin Armstrong is Guernica’s fiction editor. Read his last recommendation of the short film I’m Here “here”:http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1665/rec_room_meakin_armstrong_im_h/.