Jakob Dylan planned the release date April 6th of his second solo album Women + Country well. It’s a laid back, intimate set perfectly suited to a warm spring night. Dylan seems perfectly comfortable in this setting – sparse acoustic guitars and harmonies from guests Neko Case and Kelly Hogan. Whether intentional or not, Case is under-used. She never flies to the front and completely takes over a song like she does in the New Pornographers.
Case’s under-use illustrates part of the problem with Women + Country. All of the songs are well constructed, but they tend to blend together with the exception of the Tom Waits inspired Lend a Hand. It’s hard not to listen to the horns and shuffle and want to growl as you sing along. Women + Country seems to want to say a lot and showcase Jakob as a song-writer in his own right. And it does that, but it never seem to lift off and inspire. Many of the songs seem too earnest and could do with an injection of humor and a change of pace throughout. This is something his idol Elvis Costello never lacked (and Women + Country tries to play like Costello’s King of America at points) or even his own father, Bob.