For his army of hard-core fans the bold-type blurb above will say it all. News of a Dylan offering, his first album of new music in more than three years, guarantees a buying spree.
However, bring objectivity to bear and surely the main response will be of disappointment. Where is the searing anger, the cynicism, the revealing insight, the sheer poetry?
It's there, but in doses too small to satisfy. What was he thinking of with the likes of, "I'm searching for phrases, to sing you praises" ... "A gal named Honey, took my money" ... "My heart is cheerful, it's never fearful" or even, "Charlotte's a harlot, Dresses in scarlet" (from second track, Soon After Midnight)?
His fans will say it is simply their Bob, taking the "p", but it's frustrating that he so rarely deigns to serve up all that he's capable of.
There is bluegrass slide guitar, hillbilly banjo, rockabilly rhythms, a three-chord blues, and even shades of Louis Armstrong in the opening Duquesne Whistle ... and the title track, a ballad documenting the sinking of the Titanic, seems to drag on for longer than the liner took to sink.
The voice is there, now more gravelly than the road to the Maitai Dam, but anyone new to Dylan would surely wonder what all the fuss has been about.
Best tracks: Scarlet Town, Long and Wasted Years, Tin Angel.
- Reviews by Alan Clarke, CDs from Everyman Nelson.
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