The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world








The serious papers are calling this Dylan's best in a long time (though I seem to remember that happening last time). We tend to agree...





An almost Ragtime lead brings us to Dylan swinging into what amounts vocally to Tom Waits territory on opening track ‘Duqusene Whistle’. Now I must admit it’s a while since I’ve listened to Dylan properly, but the New Orleans jazz feel and flavour of the opener and some quite incredible musicians on board means than this could well be a more enjoyable ride than you might imagine.



There’s a definite anachronistic wash of yesteryear to the palette used on this album; and daubed liberally across what amounts to a fairly simple construction on that first track alone, the result is not at all a bad reintroduction to the man who remains one of the most legendary figures in rock.



Vocally I’ve always preferred the less intense Tom Waits feel to Dylan’s voice rather than 60’s/70’s Dylan’s distinctive nasal sound, it somehow seems to sit better with him; and on winsome ballad ‘Soon After Midnight’ it works quite beautifully. Equally well received is the cowboy blues of ‘Narrow Way’ even at seven and a half minutes long!



Throughout the album of course we are constantly reminded of Dylan’s vocal genius, whether in the spoken word feel of ‘Long and Wasted Years’ or in the bawdy detail of ‘Narrow Way’ or later in highlights like ‘Tin Angel’ or closer ‘Roll On John’. What you are also reminded of is the quality of the songs. The broodingly dark ‘Scarlet Town’ is another seven minute epic that appears to be woven from delicate twilight.



This is an album with a lot to recommend it though: from the commercial rock feel of ‘Pay in Blood’ that shouts out ‘radio’; to the real blues of ‘Early Roman Kings’.



The most interesting nexus of the album though comes with the two real epics that sit towards the end of the album: the spellbinding low blues growl of triple-murder ballad ‘Tin Angel’ and the sea-shanty flavour of the Titanic sinking story ‘Tempest’ which clock in at nine and thirteen minutes respectively. It is ‘Tin Angel’ that makes more of an impression though for me, and ‘Roll on John’ that closes the album is a nice tribute to John Lennon, sprinkled with heartfelt Beatles references.



This is Bob Dylan’s best in over twenty years, probably longer. Mesmerising…



by Mark Diggins