Wednesday, May 6, 2009

playing on the stereo this week - new Bob Dylan CD Together through Life

Just purchased the new Dylan CD Together Through Life but have not had a close listen yet. For an intelligent review of the CD go to the Hurst Review, an excellent and intelligent website/blog which explores contemporary music.

Here are a few extracts from Josh Hurt's review.

Bob Dylan: “Together Through Life”

'.......It’s his jauntiest, breeziest set in years, an album that seems as unconcerned with commenting on world affairs as it is shoring up the master’s legacy. If Times Out of Mind was his comeback, Love & Theft his masterful display of his full powers of depth and expression, and Modern Times a weighty testament to his status as rock’s great elder statesman, Together Through Life is a vexingly casual affair that seems like it was recorded for no one more than for Dylan himself.

Might as well just call it what it is: Another weird curveball in a career that thrives on ‘em, and another strange riddle for Dylanologists to sort out. What it ultimately means within the broader context of Dylan’s body of work– if indeed it means anything at all– there’s no telling, at least not yet. For now, this much seems important: It bears fleeting similarity to several of his past albums, but ultimately doesn’t sound much like any of them. It drinks from the same classic-blues well as Modern Times, but it’s a markedly simpler, more spirited affair. At times it shakes and sways like Love & Theft, but not with abandon or creative gusto so much as casual nonchalance. The presence of David Hidalgo on accordion– adding what critics seem intent on calling a “border cafe” feel” to most of these songs– recalls Scarlet Rivera’s violin work that added shading and character to Desire, and indeed, this album is similarly unassuming, though more focused, less varied, and lacking the big, major highlights.

..... Dylan’s gift, at least at this stage in the game, lies in his ability to effortlessly conjure the ghosts of the past and bid them to speak in some strange, timeless language– to stitch together, from the pieces of our cultural history, a story that’s both very old and completely Dylan’s.

Dylan, more than any other living/working songwriter, guards the doorway to an old, mythic America that’s as old as the nation itself and as real and visceral today as it’s ever been– and of course, when you consider this album under the full weight of history that it bears, it suddenly opens up not as some artifact of the past, but as a commentary on the present, as seen through the tropes and tall tales that have always carried the seed of the American story.

....He is, to be sure, playing with expectations, but he’s playing with history and language and myth, as well– and he’s obviously tickled to death to be doing it: Dylan sounds strong and engaged, and he’s never made an album as rich in playfulness and wonder, with the harder-rocking numbers and the more genteel ballads imbued with the same sort of whimsy. Those expecting a last will and testament will be suitably shocked to find, in its place, a party, one filled with all the darkness and hope of the age in which it was conceived, and in which history comes crashing into the present day. In other words: It’s a sly, winking album from an artist who knows what he’s doing and doesn’t much care if it meets our approval. From Bob Dylan, what else could we possibly expect?

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