Bob Dylan is an American icon, regardless of the generation Dylan’s music speaks to people. To this day he continues to produce music that speaks to the masses, and continues to tour which is amazing for being 71. Last week Dylan put out his latest album, and I have to say I’m very impressed with this collection of ten tracks.
The album starts out with the impressive “Duquesne Whistle” a gritty blues number that Dylan wrote with Robert Hunter whom also wrote and performed with the late, Jerry Garcia. The track which runs at almost six minutes starts with guitar which then gets double by piano. It really starts to pick up when the drums and walking bass line kick in. Then Dylan’s soulful and gravely vocal comes in. Next up is the track, “Soon After Midnight” which is a slower song that lyrically is great, but musically kind of boring. The next track on the record is a real rocker, and entitled, “Narrow Way.” The track is a fast blues, but you definitely get more of an early rock and roll feel. I enjoyed the track, but at seven minutes it got a bit repetitive. “Long and Wasted” years is up next, and to me it was one of the most enjoyable tracks due to the story telling nature and the way the track just had that very easy groove.
“Pay in Blood” is the fifth track on the album and to me this sounds like a Keith Richards penned Stones song. The piano and guitar groove very much like something Richards would pen, but the vocals throughout are uniquely Bob Dylan. Again, Dylan finds himself telling another enjoyable story that is much like a soap opera with the lines “You got the same eyes that your mother does/If only you could prove who your father was.” This story telling aspect and the very Rolling Stone’s like vibe makes this one of my favorite songs on the record.
Next up we find the track, “Scarlet Town” this is also another track where Dylan shows his tremendous story telling abilities. It is truly a haunting tune driven by banjo and a haunting violin played by David Hidalgo.
After listening to the great slab of work that was “Scarlet Town,” I found myself very disappointed by the next track entitled “Early Roman Kings” which musically is a clear rip off of a Muddy Waters riff, with only some added accordion and keyboards to make it sound different. This track was followed up by another track called “Tin Angel” which is driven by a small band and a prominent fretless bass that sounds magnificent and emphasizes the dramatic nature of Dylan’s lyrics.
The title track, “Tempest” follows “Tin Angel,” and to me this is an epic song about the sinking of the Titanic. Dylan’s imagery is just magnificent, and unlike most people who portray the sinking, he does not candy coat it.
The final track on the album is entitled “Roll on John,” and is a tribute to John Lennon. The song starts off with a nice progression, and leads into a verse that tells the story of John Lennon from The Quarrymen to the sudden fame of the Beatles. Dylan also makes numerous references to Lennon’s own words when he sings lyrics that came from Beatle’s classics, “Come Together” and “A Day in The Life.” The song is truly an amazing tribute to a great musician and friend.
Tempest is an amazing piece of work by Dylan. Musically Bob Dylan is on par with his best material, but when it comes to lyrics, you can see why some refer to him more as a poet than a musician.
Check Out Bob Dylan’s music video for “Duquesne Whistle” Below: