Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bob Dylan - Together Through Life (Columbia, 2009)

Apart from possibly Frank Sinatra, has there ever been a pop musician as consistently productive and interesting as Bob Dylan? Nearing seventy, he continues to tour and make fascinating music filled with wry commentary on life, love and loss. This album was quickly recorded with his touring band at the end of their 2008 road trip, and it has a spontaneous feel, like a set of snapshots or short stories with a narrative about the place of romance and the modern world running through it. Bookended by two spectacular compositions, "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" and "It's All Good" the album shifts through rock 'n' roll, country, roots and blues at a genial and enjoyable pace. The aforementioned songs are the real keepers filled with sandpaper dry humor and insight, plus the excellent playing of the band. Dylan's unique voice seals the deal - there's nothing like it, shifting from doom laden prophet to trickster con-man at the drop of a hat. The rest of the album is quite solid also, with the the band playing bluesy shuffles on "My Wife's Hometown," "Shake Shake Mama" and "If You Ever Go to Houston" and thoughtful acoustic ballads in "Life is Hard" and "Forgetful Heart." While this album may not be as monumental as his two previous ones, it remains excellent and a great pleasure to listen to. Hopefully these wonderful updates from Dylan-world will become more frequent in the years to come.
Together Through Life -

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