Saturday, June 21, 2008

Listening: New CDs by Emmylou & Jakob Dylan

"We all cling/as the years keep rolling on/one single promise/of a love that's past and gone/and that lonesome valley/we all walk it by ourselves/where the wildwood flower/is a story we will tell" — Emmylou Harris, "How She Could Sing the Wildwood Flower"

New CDs by Emmylou Harris, "All I Intended to Be," and Jakob Dylan's "Seeing Things" (his first solo effort, produced by Rick Rubin) arrived, coincidently, in the mail on the same day. Ordered on the fly, I was surprised how much they both look (both black and white photo adorned, eco CD jackets) and sound: mid-tempo to slow guitar driven tunes steeped in the songwriter tradition. Songwriter songs, introspective songs, about good, evil, battles (inner and outer), life and death and the questionable after-life. Both quietly powerful, rather than hit you in the face discs. If you're looking for Wallflowers (Dylan's old band) jangle, you won't find it on his solo effort. Likewise, Harris's latest has more in common with her early career (it's produced by Brian Ahern who did the same for her first 10 or so CDs) than Spyboy or Wrecking Ball. Instead, it's traditional folk circa 2008.
While I wouldn't tell someone brand new to her work to put Harris's "All I Intended to Be" on first, the CD puts another brick in her extremely solid body of work. Comprised of originals and interpretations of other current greats of songwriters (Patty Griffin, Jude Johnstone among them), it is more reflective in tone.
And hats off to Jakob, for speaking his truth and singing his own songs, despite the world's expectations (the same ones his father notoriously tried to evade) of what he should or shouldn't do.

"Like a lost dog between hourses/in the unknown open country/line up at dawn to see who's missing/my age is a metaphor/it only speaks of everything before"— Jakob Dylan "War is Kind

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