Love and Theft (2001)


 
1. Twiddle Dee & Twiddle Dum 2. Mississippi 3. Summer Days 4. Bye and Bye 5. Lonesome Day Blues 6. Floater (Too Much To Ask) 7. High Water (for Charley Patton) 8. Moonlight 9. Honest With Me 10.Po' Boy 11.Cry Awhile 12.Sugar Baby

 

Coming out five years after the out-of-nowhere blockbuster Time Out of Mind, Dylan proves that his comeback was no fluke. Smartly, he doesn't try to replicate the sound of its predecessor. This album in many ways seems to be a complete 180 degree turn from the dark, gritty, lonely work on Time Out of Mind. This record sounds fresh, energetic, light-hearted, and to some degree - happy. In other words, where the latter release was more of a night time album, this record sounds best during the day. There are mandolins, fiddles, banjos and Hammond B3 organs abound to help in capturing such a pleasurable feel, and this is probably his biggest homage to Americana since his venture with The Band on The Basement Tapes, although the feel here is more structured and less loose.

As different as this album is from the last one, it's still clearly Dylan and still clearly expectable. His voice, now forever craggy, still remains his signature and he manages to not sound much similar to anything he's ever done, yet stamp his familiar brand on the songs throughout. And the songs here are a big strength. All originals, he manages to bring back a little of the lyrical, whimsical poet that had been gone for some time - not to say his skills ever faltered in that area, he just sounds once again like he could just read the lyrics here and keep you entertained.

Everyone is bound to have their favorites, and there aren't any fillers nor mistakes on the record. He gets a little bit more sad and weepy on such tracks as Bye and Bye and the beautiful closer Sugar Baby, and manages to capture a bit of the hillbilly spirit on Po' Boy and, to some extent, the powerful High Water (for Charley Patton). Regardless of the taste you have in music, it's really hard not to find something here to like. Yes, Dylan will always be criticized for his singing voice, so don't expect this record to win over any converts, but being that the man is aging so well, the overall feel is much more easier to assimilate for a novice. Like it's predecessor, it soared on the charts and managed to win a Grammy. Rightfully so. It was nice to see a solid comeback from an artist who had mostly disappeared from much of the public eye for the past couple of decades.

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