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Dylan goes bobbing for a new, solo career
by AnnElise Hatjakes
Sep 04, 2008 | 1275 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When speaking about Jakob Dylan, the phrase “having large shoes to fill” is an understatement. As the youngest son of music legend Bob Dylan, the lead singer of the ‘90s rock group The Wallflowers was hard pressed to step out from behind the huge shadow cast by his father. Although his first solo CD, “Seeing Things,” has received mixed reviews, the album has helped to establish the singer/songwriter as a solo artist.

Dylan was also the primary founder of the Grammy Award-winning Wallflowers, which aside from Dylan, was composed of bass guitarist Barrie Maguire, drummer Peter Yanowitz and keyboardist Rami Jaffee. The Wallflowers began performing in Los Angeles in 1989 and their self-titled debut album, which was released in 1992, although praised by critics, sold relatively few copies, topping out at 40,000 initially. The band became much more popular with the release of its second album, “Bringing Down the Horse,” which had the hit single “One Headlight.” The group walked away from the Grammy Awards of 1998 with two awards, one for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “One Headlight” and Jakob Dylan was awarded Best Rock Song for writing the song.

The Wallflowers went on to create three other albums, the most recent being 2005’s “Rebel, Sweetheart,” and have continued performing. Dylan began his solo career once the band’s contract with Interscope Records ended in 2005 and it was at this time that he began working on “Seeing Things.” Between the time Dylan began working on the album and when the album released in June, he was involved in several different projects including recording a cover of The Band’s song “Whispering Pines,” which appeared on the tribute CD “Endless Highway – the music of The Band” and both writing and recording the theme song for the television show “Six Degrees,” which premiered in September 2006.

In early September 2007, the New York Times reported Dylan was working on his first solo album and on Feb. 20, Dylan’s official Web site released information about the album. The pressure on Dylan was immense, as there was doubt that the album could achieve the same success as the albums of The Wallflowers or his father. Despite the fact that Dylan said in an interview with David Dye of NPR that he wished that the album be judged based on its musical quality rather than be compared to music of The Wallflowers or his father, critics jumped on the opportunity to compare Dylan to these musicians, which resulted in a flurry of negative reviews.

Mark Kemp of Rolling Stone magazine wrote of the album, “Jakob enlists producer Rick Rubin, who captures the essence of another icon, Johnny Cash, in a series of stripped-down folk albums. But Jakob doesn’t have his father’s lyrical gift to augment these spare songs.”

The same review does, however, point out different “high points,” such as the pretty ballad “On Up the Mountain” and the “feel-good pop song ‘Something Good This Way Comes.’”

Other critics have praised Dylan for his ability to address heavy topics such as the war in Iraq. Blender magazine describes, “Dylan piles on baroque symbolism to tell fractured narratives that uncover modest emotional truths. ‘Valley of the Low Sun’ evokes the surrealism of the Iraq war from a soldier’s perspective and ‘War is Kind’ upends ‘60s idealism by showing how distance and hardship strengthen family bonds.”

Jakob Dylan will be performing at the Nugget Celebrity showroom on Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets begin at $45 and are available through www.tickets.

com or by calling 800-648-1177.
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