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Jakob Dylan, Neko Case Team Up on Folky LP

Singer’s new solo album features Neko Case, mellow country mood

Rolling Stone IN May 10, 2010

Mark Sullivan/Wireimage/Getty Images

T Bone Burnett first met Jakob Dylan on the legendary Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975, when Jakob was just five. Two decades later, Burnett produced Bringing Down the Horse, the breakthrough album for Dylan’s band, the Wallflowers. “He’s a beacon in my life,” says Dylan. “Whatever I’m doing will be better if T Bone’s there with me, whether it’s music or landscaping.”

Dylan’s second solo album, Women + Country, reunites him and Burnett, and is another career high point: “There’s something special about the record,” says Dylan. “I could tell from day one that there was something magic happening.”

Dylan, who released his first solo album in 2008, wasn’t planning on putting out another so soon. But when he dropped by to see Burnett in the studio last year, he played him a new song, ”˜Nothing but the Whole Wide World,’ a cinematic slice of Americana that Dylan had actually written for Glen Campbell. “Very few times have I heard a songwriter play me a song that good,” says Burnett. “When I heard that song, all of his influences ”“ the Clash, Elvis Costello ”“ and all of the realities of growing up as Bob Dylan’s son seemed to have fallen away. He was just writing true American music.”

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Dylan returned six weeks later with 15 more songs. Burnett rounded up some of his regular collaborators ”“ pedal steel player Greg Leisz, guitarist Marc Ribot, fiddler David Mansfield ”“ and they recorded the album in five days, giving it Burnett’s usual hazy, vintage vibe. “My team aren’t only technical but aesthetic,” Burnett says. “All I had to do was get everybody in the same room.”

But the album didn’t feel done yet: “It was clear that we needed a woman on the record,” says Burnett. “I thought, ”˜Let’s ask Neko Case ”“ she’s the best woman I know.’” Both Case and one of her backup singers, Kelly Hogan, signed on. “We woodshedded like crazy,” says Case, who is currently on the road with Dylan. “We wanted to be prepared. I felt like I studied for my tests and didn’t wanna throw up my lunch.”

Though the Wallflowers haven’t released an album since 2005, Dylan says the band hasn’t split. “If we don’t work for a year or two, that’s not a statement,” he explains. “But I can’t say that being a bandleader was what I was always into. Doing this now, I don’t have to worry about where the beat goes and who’s going to shine on what ”“ and I don’t feel like I have to shout so much anymore.”

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