Rough and rowdy roads
6 July 2020-
It all started with the 17-minute long confinement song "Murder most foul". A full studio album followed in June, featuring the great Bob Dylan's first original material since 2012... Well worth the wait!
So, here it is: 79-year old Nobel prize winning legendary folk/blues musician Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album — to date. The enumeration is quite deliberate: after everything the man has done, from effectively revolutionising pop music in the 60’s to helping promote the Civil rights movement to always surprising his fans over a decades-long career, you could understand that he would now choose to take it easy. The fact that he produces any new music at all is already a gift, what more would you expect?
Well, whether or not you expect it, Dylan not only delivers a new album, but he actually offers a remarkably subtle and layered collection of songs that many lesser musicians would likely kill for. To the beautifully melancholic opening track “I contain multitudes” to Blues cuts “False prophet” and “Goodbye Jimmy Reed” to the aforementioned testament to John F. Kennedy, Dylan may not surprise here, but he clearly satisfies. Everything on the album is extremely well crafted, if rather minimalistic, as has more often than not been the case with the man over the years. And his voice even sounds smoother than it did decades earlier: these recent years spent covering Sinatra and the likes may have done some good…
What is most interesting in Rough and rowdy ways are perhaps the more contemplative tracks, starting with “I contain multitudes”, then on to “Mother of muses” and “Key West”, which closes the album — before “Murder most foul” comes and virtually adds a concerto atop the existing opera that is Dylan’s 39th. The only negative comment that could be made on this album regards its Blues tracks: although perfectly well executed, they feel somewhat formulaic in this day and age, especially standing next to Leonard Cohen-esque ballads — only better. Either way, this LP is clearly a must-listen and is set to trigger only one follow-up question: will there be a 40th?
A (wo)man can dream…