Continuing in the subdued, stripped-down direction he began with his 2008 solo debut Seeing Things, Jakob Dylan nevertheless achieves a cinematic resonance on his second record, 2010’s Women + Country. Surely, part of this is down to Dylan swapping Rick Rubin, who has made starkness almost a fetish, for the analog impressionism of T-Bone Burnett, who previously worked with the singer/songwriter on the Wallflowers 1996 breakthrough album Bringing Down the Horse. Women + Country has little to do with the sturdy, sinewy, straight-ahead rock of Bringing Down the Horse: it’s dreamy and airy, slipping in and out of focus, rootsy without being earthy. Horns swoon and stumble in the background, a string bass thumps time, Marc Ribot gently punctures the murk with his gnarled guitar, while Neko Case and Kelly Hogan add warmth with their harmonies, all creating a hazy glaze that augments with Dylan’s dry, unfussy songs. These seemingly conflicting extremes don’t result in a dissonant disconnect, but rather a subtle richness: the spareness of the songs lend themselves to these layered arrangements which in turn draw attention to Dylan’s tight, clean writing. Naturally, this means that Women + Country is somewhat of a grower -- it’s so purposefully hazy it seems to pleasingly fade into the slipstream upon the first play, but those repeated spins reveal the deep craft at the heart of Women + Country, deep craft from both the songwriter, his producer, and musicians.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine