I’m not going to pretend I ‘know’ Bob Dylan, cite my years of listening to his music, experiencing life through his eyes as life happens, buying every album as it comes out, sitting in a circle of friends awkwardly, almost shamefully, muttering conceits that are far from their intentions (and aside from the ‘point’) in hopes that my assumptions about his inner-workings are close to the truth. I’m 20. I’ve inherited ‘Dylan retrospect’ that allows me to box-in his progression, growth, life’s work with an unintended but inevitable close-minded ease and confidence. I will never ‘know’ Dylan, let alone what he’s talking about. It seems impractical.

Yet Tempest feels like an invitation to the party at the top of Dylan’s life, ignoring the various generational perspectives of his work. The hired band is a somewhat freshly Bob-branded primitive six, seven piece blues act that sounds like a one-and-done backing band (too country; too folky) rolling through Chess Records circa 1954. He juxtaposes this vibe with his sometimes suggestive and serious tone paired with a grinning jest in his narrative, yielding a complex web of inner-album relationships (“Duquesne Whistle” seems intimately removed from “Pay In Blood”, like two cousins reconnecting, loathing their time and place at a family gathering).

He so often deals in themes that overarch everything on Tempest: death, desire, love, that by the time the 14 minute title track about the Titanic sets in, I want to ignore the larger metaphor of the epic at hand and dive into its images–its flesh rather than its genius–a feeling evoked by some cuts off of Blood on the Tracks, only this time a little farther from Dylan’s heart, and much looser in stride; cold and dark, almost.

Tempest is a piece of reflection so well-rounded and fair that it’s honestly hard for me to believe anyone would attempt to discuss its intentions, its thoughts. It stands nearly untouchable, separate, from his catalogue (though maybe not so different sonically from Together Through Life and Modern Times) in a way that suggests further progression and growth, almost begging:  “you think you know me?”

Originally posted on Solid Stated

Views: 4655

Comment by jim reinhart on September 14, 2012 at 3:48am

you got it...... thanks !!!

Comment by Kyla Fairchild on September 14, 2012 at 7:50am

Hey Lucca! Great job on your first No Depression post. I hope there is more where this came from.

(Lucca is our college intern who has been helping out behind the scenes on the site for the last couple months)

Comment by DrMikey on September 14, 2012 at 8:35am

I guess no one knows Bob.  He's always wanted it that way.  To have been around for "Freewheelin'" and "Highway 61 Revisted,"  however, was something special and included a spiritual aspect missing from most contemporary music.  Part (most?) of it was the times -- and they have indeed changed.  Not sure I can follow the admonition "don't look back." 

Comment by Terry Roland on September 14, 2012 at 1:42pm

I loved this review, Lucca.  Your observation,  "I want to ignore the larger metaphor of the epic at hand and dive into its images–its flesh rather than its genius" could easily be said about his best work of the past 50 years.  

Comment by jessmica on September 14, 2012 at 4:45pm

Well said, Lucca! This review was a joy to read. Tempest seems to be a fantastic piece of work. Unfortunately, I can't bring myself to listen to Bobby D's newest album for much more than a few minutes at a time, due to the effect of his voice on my eardrums. I hope that I don't come across as just another "Bob Dylan can't sing" kind of person, because that's not me at all. In fact, I really like the way he used to sing - it may not have been the "prettiest" of voices, but it was an incredibly unique voice, and it appealed to me. I never found it annoying or bad at all... until now. Now, I want so badly to listen to his newest work, but I just can't. And that makes me really sad. Anyone else experiencing this?    

Comment by Sue Rarick on September 20, 2012 at 5:59pm

Bob's voice is the voice of a 70 year old guy who has seen and done it all. A voice singed and worn by a life well spent. Being in my mid/late 60's myself I know the damage years of hard but fun living has taken.

In Bob's voice I hear the voice of a man who has been there, done it and has all the 'T' shirts. It begs the question of what do you do when you've done everything on your bucket list? Do you make up a new list or enjoy the memories of deeds done?

Comment by colin crighton on October 15, 2012 at 12:22pm

Yes, fantastic, insightful review Lucca! This album to me, has the sound of someone who is comfortable in their own shoes and is doing it for the sheer joy of it. There's a really relaxed feel to the band which is echoed in Bob's delivery.. and a fourteen minute track harks back to the Dylan of old.. if you don't want to hang around to hear what I say, that's fine by me! I've been guilty in recent years of buying his new albums and shelving them... this one, however, I'm going to enjoy growing into... :)

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.