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Jakob Dylan
Seeing Things
Columbia Records
www.jakobdylan.com


Jakob Dylan stepped out of the shadows of his father, the prolific Bob Dylan, back in the '90s when he formed The Wallflowers, and now he has stepped into his own with the release of his debut album Seeing Things. The album stretches his tentacles greater, burrowing deep into the caverns of Americana, folk and bluegrass and reeling them closer to mainstream's palette.

A bit of old-time country-blues reflective of John Prine and Rufus Wainwright, Jakob Dylan makes good use of vintage slow rocking porch-type tunes and refurbishes them for modern tastes. His vocals cradle the lyrics as if they were words taken from a private journal ruminating about life's lessons, like in "Everybody Pays As They Go." Dylan gingerly intones, "The playing field is level / But it's ugly down below / It's a devil of a handbook, hi ho hi ho / Either you're the butcher or the lamb / but even so, everybody pays as they go." The lyrics bring up a convincing argument that people are punished whether they're kind or brutal.

Though the album is rod by dark themes like this which are painfully honest and show that life treats bad behavior and good deeds equally, Dylan also offers some positive messages - like in "Something Good This Way Comes" when he elates, "Got my window open wide / Got a good woman by my side / This kind of day has no night." The sparseness of the music has a folksy-blues shading, which makes the songs sound like you can listen to them at home or played in wide open fields. The slender layers are intentional and focus the listener's attention on the words which reveal impressions about human nature that are influenced by everyday images.

Produced by Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, The Dixie Chicks), Seeing Things elevates the level of social consciousness to a point where people can connect with each other in a broader sense. The rootsy Americana feel of the music is vintage but the sentiment expressed in the words is contemporary. Though Dylan is happy with the record, he admits that The Wallflowers are not over yet as he tells in a recent press release, "I have a great group, and I want to make more records with them." Seeing Things is a pit-stop for Dylan whose reclining vocals have the strongest presence in the album.

-Susan Frances

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