Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

Tempest

Sony Music

Bob Dylan began his career in 1962 and has been confounding his listeners ever since. Now, at the age of 71, he has released his 35th album, Tempest. The pattern that has been the hallmark of his last several records, since 2001’s Love And Theft, at least, is again evident on his latest. Where the Dylan of the ’60s and ’70s was engaging, passionate and vital, the elder Bob seems content with epic tales of the sinking of the Titanic (the title cut) or songs about trains (“Duquesne Whistle”).

Highway 61 Revisited it ain’t.

There is nothing particularly wrong with Tempest. True, Dylan’s “voice” is barely more than a Marlboro-heavy croak, and despite the big names — Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Charlie Sexton among others — the band and the arrangements sound like an afterthought. He sings every lyric unadorned and plain, somehow relying on the words to command our attention, but they fail.

He tosses out lines such as “I pay in blood, but not my own” (“Pay in Blood”) but never follows it up. Paid what? And whose blood? Rather than being allegorical, it just sounds like another catchy phrase on an album full of them, and little else. The most compelling song on the album, “Scarlet Town,” reminds you somewhat of the Dylan of yore, but with lyrics such as “Set ’em Joe, play ‘Walkin’ the Floor’/Play it for my flat-chested junkie whore,” it makes you wonder if Dylan really cares for the end result of his efforts.

And if that’s the case, then why should we?

Bob Dylan: www.bobdylan.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Bully
    Bully

    Bully greets Orlando with apathy and anger toward one of its theme parks. Jen Cray smiles and thinks, “Man, this band would have fit in well in the nineties!”

  • Luther Dickinson
    Luther Dickinson

    Blues & Ballads: A Folksinger’s Songbook: Volumes I & II (New West Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Conway
    Conway

    Big Talk EP (Self-Released). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Freakwater
    Freakwater

    Scheherazade (Bloodshot Records). Review by James Mann.

  • The Haymarket Squares
    The Haymarket Squares

    Light It Up. Review by Carl F Gauze.

  • Ani DiFranco
    Ani DiFranco

    Years pass, and so do our legends, but one constant remains: there are always artists living and breathing that are worth your time and attention. Ani DiFranco is a major one, according to Jen Cray and a whole legion of fans.

  • Javier Escovedo
    Javier Escovedo

    Kicked Out Of Eden (Saustex Media). Review by James Mann.

  • Eszter Balint
    Eszter Balint

    Airless Midnight (Red Herring). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Arthur Lee and Love
    Arthur Lee and Love

    Real to Reel (High Moon Records). Review by Al Pergande.

  • The Rentiers
    The Rentiers

    Here is a List of Things That Exist EP / Black Metal Yoga 7″ (Square of Opposition Records/Death to False Hope Records). Review by Jen Cray.

From the Archives