I’m sure if you own a TV/ watch it, you’ve seen commercials for Bob Dylan’s new album Modern Times. It has been getting amazing reviews and countless promos for a very good reason. Bob Dylan manages a feat that many great rock and roll stars still have not mastered — aging gracefully. Instead of a desperate attempt at youth by dyeing his hair or wearing spandex, Dylan tries the opposite, reverting back to old American blues, and writing deep lyrics about the political and social atmosphere in the country. By doing so, he makes his latest album a true and shameless musical success.
Backed by an amazing band with jazz/bluegrass roots, so used to Dylan’s spontaneity, he gives this new album a genuine blue-collar feel. This bluesman has seen it all, and yet is still not affected and making music. With that classic raspy Bob Dylan voice, paired with new lyrics, Modern Times is hard to not tap your foot to.
Modern Times is defiantly a new step for Dylan. Aside from his wild days as a youth, Dylan still records as he ages. Love and Theft, recorded when he was 60, had some of Dylan’s toughest guitar rock since Blonde on Blonde (1966). Modern Times is far lighter, and easy to listen to. There is no bite of a steel guitar, just relaxed music. It is almost like listening to old men “porch sitting” and “jamming out” unrehearsed. However, Dylan has been working on this album since 1962, so this collection of music is anything but random (another reason why it’s so good.) It almost has the feel that Dylan has spent his time enhancing his old sound and re-working it to make the perfect retirement album.
The lyrics in this album are something to be really listened to. From heartfelt love poems, to harsh political critique, Bob Dylan has created lyrics that one is able to relate to, yet show that the musician has developed some depth in his lyric writing over the years. The language is simple, yet genuine especially in “Thunder on the Mountain,”
“Feel like my soul is beginning to expand/Look into my heart and you will sort of understand/You brought me here, now you’re trying to run me away/The writing’s on the wall, come read it, come see what it say.”
In “Spirit on the Water” Dylan tries to use God’s creation to describe the loveliness of his woman: “I wanna be with you in paradise, and it seems so unfair/I can’t go back to paradise no more/I killed a man back there.”
Overall this is defiantly one of Bob Dylan’s best albums. Some of the songs are a little lengthy, and the music bridges drag on to lose your attention span at spots, but through his lyrics and amazing music Dylan makes up for it.