Sunday, April 2, 2017


It always takes me a bit to get used to Dylan's, um, croon on these classic songwriter collections. It doesn't help that he hits a couple of clunkers on the very first song, "I Guess I'll Have To Change My Plans," but eventually I warm up to it, and start appreciating the phrasing and the charm. When you listen closely to, say, "P.S. I Love You" (NOT The Beatles' song), he is bang-on the melody. He does better on the ballads than on livelier numbers; he's all over the place on "The Best Is Yet To Come," which has a tricky tempo, but he survives.

Even if he's not the greatest singer, he does a lot of other things very, very well on these collections. Dylan is, as he has always been, an excellent curator. His taste is impeccable, and if at this time in his life he has chosen to perform the work of the great American songwriters, it's that guy who wanted us to know about Woody Guthrie back in 1962. That touring band of his has developed a whole new sound for this material, different than anybody else has ever played it. The key is Donnie Herron's pedal steel, lush and eerie, that replaces the strings that are usually found on these songs. The guitars, brushed percussion and acoustic bass settle in, and create a dreamy, jazzy world.

Dylan had said he'd recorded a bunch of this material when he released the first such album, Shadows in the Night, back in 2015. Since he's never stood still for long, it wouldn't surprise me if, with this triple album, he'll be done with this career phase. It sure doesn't feel like a last act.

No comments:

Post a Comment