Tempest (2012)

1. Duquesne Whistle 2. Soon After Midnight 3. Narrow Way 4. Long and Wasted Years 5. Pay in Blood 6. Scarlet Town 7. Early Roman Kings 8. Tin Angel 9. Tempest 10.Roll on John


It's always nice when an artist that was originally popular almost a half a century ago can routinely put out great works on a consistent basis during the latter part of his career. For fans of music of oh-so-long-ago, we're grateful when our idols from the sixties and seventies put out maybe one or two albums per decade. That doesn't seem to be the case with Bob Dylan. It seems like every time you turn around he's got a new record out, and when there is a gap, we're graced with a collection from his 'bootleg' series, so he stays fresh in our minds and in our hearts.

This album continues in the vein of his last several records. He's resigned to being a craggy sounding old crooner, but the authenticity of his voice actually adds to the overall feeling of the songs here. He's not breaking any new ground, this record sounds like everything he's done since 2002. The music has the 'ol timey feel of listening to The Grand Ole Opry on the old Fidelitone radio set from the 1940s.

The music here is so infectious, that it times it's hard to forget that many of the songs seem to not have much variety. He tends to get into a groove on many of the songs, and keeps repeating the same four bars over and over again. This would be annoying if the songs themselves were sub par. Most aren't, although he does wear out his welcome a bit on some tracks such as Scarlet Town and Early Roman Kings.

Really, though, this is more of a story telling album if anything. Dylan seems to simply croon through several yarn-like tunes, and since his gift for gab was always a very strong asset in the arts department, you don't mind, for example, a thirteen minute song/story about the Titanic (the songTempest - although I always thought a 'tempest' was a wind storm, not an iceberg). Speaking of his Titanic song, it's actually a hoot when you actually listen the lyrics, as he incorporates characters from the 1997 blockbuster into the song itself! I admit that I was a bit shocked the first time I heard the lyrics 'Leo took his sketchbook/ He was often so inclined/ He closed his eyes and painted/ The scenery in his mind...' It's actually quite brilliant, and only Dylan could pull off something like this.

The last song, Roll on John, is actually a tribute to John Lennon. Again, it seems a bit weird since it seems to be written about thirty years too late, but Dylan being Dylan, you can't really question anything this man does, and the song is equally as brilliant. So, yes, this is ultimately a lyrics album, as Dylan probably just doesn't have it in him anymore to stretch his voice into too many directions. he seems content to just serenade some stories over rustic, memorable music. He get's the job done well, and you could easily argue that the last ten years of his recording life are second only to the powerful decade of the sixties when the man simply could do no wrong at all.

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