Bob Dylan is one of the few people in popular music who honestly deserves the label of legend. Bob blew open the wall between folk music and rock & roll, along the way injecting shots of blues, country and gospel. All the while, he kept stressing the importance of a good lyric, as his lyrics have been the only true constant over his ever-changing career.
Today sees the release of Dylan’s latest, Modern Times, a spirited romp through country shuffles, pop ballads and a bit of rock. While not as edgy as his recent Time Out Of Mind or Love And Theft, Dylan isn’t rolling over and playing dead as he marches through his sixth decade on this mortal coil.
After unleashing a bit of open criticism of modern rock and pop, Dylan throws his hand onto the table with some of his best vocal work in years. My initial reaction to Modern Times was “this is Dylan’s crooning album.” Indeed, Dylan visits a lot of classic pop and country styles that have been the staples of other luminaries: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Elvis, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. Yet the sound is still uniquely Dylan: the raspy vocals, the guitar twang, the melody lines that don’t quite go where you expect them to.
Is this one of Dylan’s finest? Not necessarily, though it’s certainly a strong entry that will see many playbacks on my iPod.
Must-Listen Tracks: “Rollin’ And Tumblin’,” “When The Deal Goes Down,” “Nettie Moore,” “The Levee’s Gonna Break”