Time Out of Mind (1997)

1. Love Sick 2. Dirt Road Blues 3. Standing in the Doorway 4. Million Miles 5. Tryin' to Get to Heaven 6. 'Til I Fell in Love With You 7. Not Dark Yet 8. Cold Irons Bound 9. Make You Feel My Love 10.Can't Wait 11.Highlands


Just when you thought nobody would ever really pay attention to what Bob Dylan was doing anymore, he manages to release an incredible album that goes to the top ten and even wins a grammy for the best album of the year. But that's getting ahead of the story...

This was his first original album of new material in seven years, and even back then, his new records were only being listened to by the faithful. He reunites with producer Daniel Lanois, who produced his last "really good" album, 1989's Oh Mercy and there are actually several similarities between the two records, apart from the fact that they're both excellent pieces of work. Like that album, this album has a certain feel to it that resonates so well. The songs have an almost nocturnal quality about them, which suggest that this, like Oh Mercy is a night album. The difference, though, is that this album is a lot less polished - it's more down to earth, more gritty and therefore more honest and maybe even more sincere.

And that's really the overall strength of this record, the atmosphere. In many cases, it's hard to distinguish some songs from one another even after several listens, but that doesn't really matter. It's the overall mood of the album that sinks in so well. Imagine walking into an almost deserted smokey bar in the middle of anytown U.S.A. On stage is a ragged, over the hill performer who seems oblivious to the lack of interest in his performing. Instead, he sings from the heart, or, more specifically, about his heart being broken. His voice is craggy, but what he lacks in finesse, he makes up for in emotion. That is the feel of this album, and Dylan manages to penetrate so well under one's skin.

It's impossible to listen to some of the melancholy tunes such as Tryin' to Get Into Heaven or Standing in the Doorway without having a good, strong shot of pathos run through your veins. Many of the songs here would probably be big hits had they been done by a more polished performer and a more popular arrangement (case in point - To Make You Feel My Love was recorded by Billy Joel and Garth Brooks - the latter a pretty big hit), but Dylan has rarely sounded at his best when his music was polished. No, this record is exactly how a latter day Dylan album should sound. Although no one knew it at the time, he was beginning to embark on somewhat of a successful comeback run. And even though some of his albums after this were even better received than this one, none were as heartfelt nor as honest.

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