Friday, May 1, 2009

New Dylan Album: A Quick Review

Together Through Life, Bob Dylan’s new album, is a good album that suffers from its proximity to greatness. It follows the aging artist's late-career hat trick, three albums that are some of the strongest work of his career. (More or less—“Love and Theft” is a knockout that stands beside Blood on the Tracks and Highway 61 as one of his absolute best; Time Out of Mind’s muddy production, however, drags down its material.)

Together Through Life doesn’t sound like it’s meant to be in the same company as those albums. The songs here are simpler, lyrically and musically. It’s also his most sonically unified since Desire (thanks largely to David Hildalgo’s accordion, which is heard on every track). Still, there’s not a clunker in the bunch. Given Dylan’s notorious inconsistency, I’ll take a “merely good” album any day.