Woman + 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 Woman + Country, deep craft from both the songwriter, his producer, and musicians.
Maybe it's the presence of guitarist Marc Ribot, maybe it's the arrangements, or maybe it's Dylan's vocal register and choice of themes, but the vibe often recalls a more laid-back Tom Waits or Joe Henry. That's not bad company to keep, though Dylan's delivery lacks any edge or emotional undertow that make the lyrics speak more pointedly than Ribot's stinging guitar.
Dylan clearly set out to cut a classic country album in the tradition of Williams and Cash (and that other famous Dylan), but the end result feels more studied than spirited-somewhat like a poor period film, where the lovingly recreated sets and costumes only seem to highlight the bland performances.
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