New Morning (1970)


 
1. If Not For You 2. Days of the Locusts 3. Time Passes Slowly 4. Went to See the Gypsy 5. Winterlude 6. If Dogs Run Free 7. New Morning 8. Sign on the Window 9. One More Weekend 10.The Man in Me 11.Three Angels 12.Father of Night

 

With the birth of a new decade, it would soon become a bit sad to realize that Dylan's best years were behind him in the 1960s. Throughout the rest of his career, he would occasionally put out brilliant albums, but he would never regain the "streak" that his first six or seven albums had when he was singing about radically different times for his generation. This album is by no means a classic, yet when looking back on his entire career, there is enough bright spots here to give this one a "thumbs up".

The first thing to notice about this album is how much better it is than the disastrous Self Portrait that came out less than one year prior. Unlike that travesty, it's obvious that Dylan is going for a consistent feel and sound within the record, and even though not all of the songs here are classics, they at least sound warm and inoffensive. The record was labeled as one of his "Country" releases, but I'm not sure I've really bought into that monicker. Yes, it resembles John Wesley Harding from a couple of years ago probably closer to anything else, and his next release would be a soundtrack about Billy the Kid, so I can see why that label is present here.

Songs such as the title cut, New Morning and If Not For You (which pal George Harrison covered on his first solo album, right after this came out) do have a laid back, acoustic feel to them, and Dylan's trademark voice has gotten a bit more grittier after many shows and many packs of cigarettes. As the album progresses, it never loses its continuity but the album always takes on many different styles of music. Winterlude sounds like a foxtrot waltz with its catchy 3/4 time, and my favorite track is the overlooked One More Weekend that seems to closely emulate the style from Blonde On Blonde without losing any of the trademark sound that this record has.

There are times when some of the experiments don't work as well. If Dogs Run Free sounds almost like a "spoken" piece over cheesy jazz music, and the last two songs on the album, Three Angels and Father of Night seem to be throwaways that don't do anything at all in terms of quality. Still, the album was warmly received as it should have been, and even though his "genius" days may be over, he still managed to put out mostly good music for the rest of his seemingly unending career.


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