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Jakob Dylan shows he's up to the task

Wilbur Theatre, Boston, April 15, 2010

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Jakob Dylan's current tour behind his second solo disc, "Women + Country," is being billed as Jakob Dylan & Three Legs.

And while Three Legs was extremely strong with one of the backing singers receiving about as much applause as Dylan, that ultimately brought into question whether Dylan could hold his own.

Dylan, who first gained acclaim as lead singer of The Wallflowers, did in a show that proved to be very competent, but devoid of highs or lows, or for the most part high energy.

The singer sounded particularly strong on the new material from the very rootsy and country "Women + Country," starting with the lead-off song of the new disc, Nothing But the Whole Wide World. It's not surprising that Dylan mined that sound because T Bone Burnett produced.

Dylan, who was amiable enough in engaging the crowd, has a raspy vocal quality with his vocals mixed high most of the night. He used it to good effect and put the songs across fine. But there wasn't a lot to get excited about during the 100-minute show with many songs being in the mid-tempo range. He maintained an even-keel energy level throughout as well, making a good, but not great evening of music.

Dylan pretty much stuck to material from his solo efforts, although he closed the regular set with The Wallflowers' hit 6th Avenue Heartache.

A superb band backed Dylan with the main attraction being one of two backing singers Neko Case. Not too many months ago, Case headlined a show at the same venue, but here she was more than content to shake an instrument on occasion, but mainly handled backing vocal chores with Kelly Hogan, who also toured with Case. The red head drew much applause and shout outs from fans, but stuck to her backing role. She has an extremely powerful voice, far stronger than the main attraction and of a different beast.

Every player held their own with the other two standouts being Jon Rauhouse on pedal steel and Paul Rigby on lead guitar and mandolin. Both added a lot of the country and roots bent to the music. They didn't need to be out front to be effective either as the undertones and atmospherics provided by their playing added much texture to the sound.

Along with his backing band, Dylan was more than up to the task, even if he wasn't over the top.