Easton Corbin, "Easton Corbin" (Mercury Nashville)
On "A Little More Country Than That," his No. 1 single, Corbin seems to be saying at one point that he's more country than "Hank." The newcomer is less Hank Williams than George Strait. He most often exudes a smooth, ingratiating charm, which shouldn't be mistaken for shallowness. The songs here are all attuned to real life -- "good times, laughter and pain," as he puts it in "That'll Make You Wanna Drink." And down-and-outers such as "This Far From Memphis" and the wrenching "I Can't Love You Back" show he can put over the pain as well as he does the rest.
NICK CRISTIANO, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Jakob Dylan, "Women and Country" (Columbia)
After five CDs with the Wallflowers and one quiet solo acoustic effort, Dylan is ready for a creative revitalization. Aided by alt-country scorchers Neko Case and Kelly Hogan and producer T Bone Burnett, "Women and Country" is rootsy and elegant. "Truth for a Truth" accentuates Dylan's sense of melody with steel guitar shading, a Wild West strut and seductive barking harmonies, while the three vocalists are up to something far more haunting on "Down on Our Own Shield." Yet one senses the real star is Burnett, using musicians who helped him shape the Robert Plant-Alison Krauss CD "Raising Sand." "Women and Country" is similarly dressed with low-key Americana atmospherics but mixed results. "They've Trapped Us Boys" has a saloon feel and out-of-nowhere backing vocals. "Lend a Hand" is more forced than lively, and all the country textures can't rescue "Yonder Come the Blues" from lullaby status.
Dylan and Case perform April 27 at the Fitzgerald Theater.
TODD MARTENS, LOS ANGELES TIMES