Bob Dylan’s new album Together Through Life came out yesterday and while it is not yet included among my tangible possessions (all discretionary spending has been suspended until after July 25, 2009), I have nonetheless listened to the album in its entirety no less than a half dozen times. I now feel qualified to share my thoughts…
I love it. Dylan’s 33rd album doesn’t seem to be make any big statement. Rather, it’s an enjoyable bluesy romp - an outright celebration of ordinary America.
(It’s too bad Bob didn’t send me an advance copy, he could have included that paragraph on his promotional materials. Ah well, maybe next time).
“Some people, they tell me I have the blood of the land in my voice,” sings Dylan on “I Feel A Change Coming On.” Early in his career, the young Dylan strained to sound older (and wiser) than he was. Now 68, he’s acquired that hardened, gritty voice he’s been after. Coupled with the bluesy melodies and his typical sentimentality, it will easily satisfy any Dylan fan.
There is no shortage of striking moments. Stand out tracks include “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’,” “Forgetful Heart” and the aforementioned “I Feel a Change Comin’ On.” In fact, the only song among the album’s 10 ambling tracks that didn’t resonate with your humble reviewer was the Latin-flavored “This Dream of You.”
The only “complaint” I’ve heard about this album is that to some, it feels hastily constructed. And while the naysayers aren’t wrong (it was cut swiftly and rushed into stores), I’ll full-heartedly disagree. The album feels casual and intimate, distancing Together Through Life from Dylan’s other recent work.
It’s nice to hear Dylan, America’s greatest poet-songwriter / grizzled old man, relax and just jam. You can tell he’s enjoying himself; you can hear his smirk.