Powerful Backup

Rarely has a great songwriter, a man who is an icon and a joy to behold, been very nearly outclassed by his backup singers. The only other example we know is the early work of Gram Parsons and his tiny white-hot sidekick, Emmylou Harris. Jakob Dylan's new record, Women and Country, draws inspiration from many musical fathers: Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson. It also holds some very sweet turns of phrase: "Clap your hands and stomp your boots," "cherry-red blood." The "backup singer," however, is Neko Case, with help from Kelly Hogan as Three Legs, and together they're a far holier band of angels than most men want standing behind them. Dylan is, of course, not most men. Does he remind us of anyone? Sure. But we'll let him speak for himself about his family: "Mama raised me to sing and just let him talk."

The Felice Brothers and Honeyhoney open.
Wed., May 12, 8 p.m., 2010

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