Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bob Dylan Shadows Of The Nght 2015

So here we have Bob Dylan's tribute to Frank Sinatra. It is, on some level, everything the rave reviews say it is. Dylan pays loving homage to a style of music that came before his own. He inhabits the lyrics, caresses them from his lips, with some shockingly good singing. The use of his own touring and recording band works out just fine. The only problem is that it is dull and boring, every arrangement more lifeless than the one before.

Rolling Stone gave it four stars (out of five, not ten).

The Guardian gave it five stars and called it "an unalloyed pleasure".

The Telegraph gave it five stars and called it "extraordinary".

AllMusic gave it four stars.

Washington Square gave it a 9/10 and finished the review with "When Dylan flexes and fires on all cylinders like this, nobody else has a chance."

That last guy couldn't possibly have been listening to the same CD that I was.

Pitchfork gave it a more realistic 6.2/10, and noted quite accurately "Say what you want about Sinatra, but at least the man could swing." Dylan can sometimes swing, too, but there's none of that here. They also said  "Shadows in the Night may pose some compelling questions for the Bobophiles who scrutinize every line and every word of every Dylan song, but for the more casual, less obsessive listener, it can be a bit of a snooze." To which I say Amen.

Dylan sings these songs really very well, with nuance and emotion. He sings as well, or better, than we could have ever expected. These lovely melodies are enhanced regularly by pedal steel guitar that is just perfect for the occasion. But these ballads (every song) move at glacial speed, making the thought of a dirge sound snappy. I get the whole moody thing, but unless it's two am and you're already depressed, I'd skip this one.

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