It’s tough to write about Jakob Dylan without referencing his father, Bob, and pundits are going to have an even tougher time now with the release of Jakob’s acoustic solo album. While his previous albums with his band The Wallflowers always featured stellar writing, that was often buried under the three-chord pop-rock bombast of guitars and drums. In contrast, the guitar and voice approach of “Seeing Things” — produced by career-reshaper Rick Rubin — places lyrical content center stage.
The album’s folk tone and fingerpicking style is set right from its rhythmic opener “Evil is Alive and Well.” The centerpiece song that follows, “Valley of the Low Sun,” sums up the album’s themes of war and weapons, family and home.
Most of the songs are introspective and ruminative about conflict and roots. Dylan tackles them in a personal and subtle manner, rather than making blunt statements. He lightens up, though, on “All Day and All Night,” a country number; and the hopeful and happy “Something Good This Way Comes,” a wonderfully optimistic slice of Americana. These are the two most upbeat cuts on the album, and also the only two with any drums or percussion.
“Seeing Things” is an album by a son not shying away from his father’s legacy, but finding his own direction home. Whatever things Dylan Jr. is seeing, he has managed to craft them into something uniquely his own.
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