Dylan's Tempest gets storming reviews
Bob Dylan has been getting some of the most enthusiastic reviews of his career for his latest album, Tempest. It’s a startling and impressive collection of songs with themes of mortality, regret and political anger.
Whether it deserves to rank alongside classics like Blonde On Blonde and Blood On The Tracks, as some over-excited critics have claimed, is doubtful, but Tempest certainly demonstrates that the 71 year-old is still making vital contributions to popular music. It’s his 35th album in the 50th year of his career. Although there are dull patches, the best songs mean it might make the top ten of any career overview.
The opening track, 'Duqesne Whistle', is deceptively easy-going, a pre-rock country and gospel rhythm driving one of Dylan’s catchiest and most accessible tunes in years. He proves he can still rock out on the driving Stonesy attack of 'Narrow Road', while the invective on 'Pay In Blood', arguably the strongest song on the album, is reminiscent of the fiery Dylan of the mid 60s.
The title track has attracted a lot of attention, telling the tale of the Titanic disaster to a lilting Irish melody, and name-checking Leonardo Di Caprio along the way. It, and the murder ballad 'Tin Angel', are relentless, and overstay their welcome a little.
Closing track 'Roll On John' is tribute to John Lennon. Typically Dylan took his time, 32 years, to put his thoughts into a song, but it’s a graceful and heartfelt elegy, typical of a pensive and creatively vibrant record.