Jakob Dylan – Seeing Things

Poor Jakob Dylan. While his lineage no doubt gave him a leg up in the music business, it has also prevented him from ever really being appreciated on his own merits. And that’s a shame, because he is a truly great artist.

I’m not sure if Dylan’s first solo outing, Seeing Things, marks the end of The Wallflowers. I hope not, because the band has put out several very strong rock albums that are quite different from this stripped down affair featuring mostly just Dylan and his guitar. To reference an artist they’re often compared to, The Wallflowers’ albums are to Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. what Seeing Things is to Springsteen’s Nebraska.

It’s funny that Bob Dylan’s son has such a great singing voice. Granted, he’s not Bono, but his gruff but tender delivery is just right for these songs. And lyrically I’d stack him up against just about anybody writing pop music today. One of my favorite lines in recent memory is this gem from ‘Up From Under’ on The Wallflowers’ Breach album: “But those days before I met you girl were just ice cream falling down on the shoes of my world.” The lyrics on this album are similarly evocative (and if I had a lyric sheet in front of me, I’d quote some).

Many of the songs on Seeing Things are about war — not the war in Iraq, per se, but the timeless theme of boys going off to fight; songs that could be about World War II, or the Civil War; songs like his dad used to write. He also throws in a few light-hearted numbers that shuffle along with the same old-time charm, but this is mainly a downbeat affair. Still, Rick Rubin’s production sparkles and the melodies are lovely. I hope it receives the critical acclaim that has mostly eluded Dylan so far.

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