Neil McCormick dissects Bob Dylan's new album Tempest, due for release later this year
8 August 2012
“I’m searching for phrases to sing your praises,” croons Bob Dylan on Soon After Midnight. It is fantastic to be able to report that popular music’s greatest troubadour is still as brilliant and bewildering as ever.
The sound is a continuation of the blues, country and folk styles that run through all his later work, but with less of the kind of Thirties pastiche he’s played with since 2001’s Love And Theft . There is a sense is that Dylan is still honing in on that wild, mercurial music he hears in his head.
These ten tracks range from the throwaway blues of Early Roman Kings to the nine minute ballad Tin Angel to the title track which runs to 45 verses and 14-minutes, relating a vision of the sinking of the Titanic. The album’s beautiful, surprising conclusion, Roll On John, is almost out of character, a shaggy, loose piano and organ lament for one of rock’s great dreamers, John Lennon. Dylan sings to his lost friend “your bones are weary, you’re about to breath your last / Lord you know how hard that bit can be” before breaking into an elegiac, bittersweet chorus (“Shine a light / Move it on / You burned so bright / Roll on John”). This is an album I can’t wait to hear again, the sound of a great artist approaching the twilight of his career with fearless creativity, our finest songwriter regarding the murderous madness of the world with an unflinching gaze and a loving heart. Roll on, Bob.