Interview: Jakob Dylan's Eagle Ears
"Turntables are incredible!" Noted songcrafter Jakob Dylan, 40, the proud owner of a sweet Rega 'table that he spent months researching, is waxing about the merits of, well, listening to wax on platters &emdash; and appreciating their inherent beauty. "I sit online and look at the ones they make in Europe," he admits. "You can buy a house for the cost of some of those turntables. They're works of art. Some of them really belong in a museum."
No arguments here. And in this era of 0s and 1s filling in the digital blanks (or not), it's worth noting that certain albums lend themselves better to being spun on and enjoyed from a turntable. Case in point: Women + Country (Columbia), the second solo album from the Wallflowers leader. (The band is currently on hiatus.) It's one of those things we like to refer to as a great headphones album, thanks in no small part to the intimate, atmospheric production by über-producer T Bone Burnett. "My last record [2008's Seeing Things] had certain restrictions to it; it was very primal," explains Dylan. "So I didn't want anything like that at all for Women from the get-go; I wanted full, beautiful sound. And I got really excited about the instrumentation T Bone had in mind, because he knows his sonics as well as anybody. Plus I already knew all of the folks who would play on the record, which was very inspiring when I wrote it." And nothing but the whole wide world to gain by listening to it...
As you were writing and crafting Women + Country, did you have a specific sonic goal in mind?
For sure. Our recording technique lent it- self to a very good vinyl record. If you make a highly digital record that's just chopped up, it makes no sense to put it on vinyl. If you make a hyper-electronic-sounding record, there's no purpose doing vinyl for it. But based on how we recorded, this is exactly the kind of record that should be put on vinyl today. [Currently, the 180-gram Women + Country LP is available at jakobdylan.com and at his live shows.]
So a high-quality vinyl release was always on your mind?
Oh yeah, I planned on it. There was one Wallflowers record, Red Letter Days , that was put on the cheap vinyl. The grooves were like an inch deep! I can't say I was aware that you could even make shitty vinyl; I thought those kind of machines would have been gone by that point. Lesson learned there.