This 1981 album, the twenty-first from legend Bob Dylan, is the third in a trilogy of albums that try to communicate his newfound Christian faith. It is also the third in a very long run of duff albums that would last until the late nineties.
For a man who wrote his best material when impassioned, usually with adversity, it is strange that his absolute devotion to religion and the stick he took for it produced such anodyne music. And that has always been my problem with this album and its two immediate predecessors, the music is very bland. There is no sense of love or anger in it. At it's best sacred music - be it classical or gospel - lifts the heart and soul even in an atheist like me. There is nothing in this record of that, and a programme of largely forgettable tunes result. Dylan has started to move away from the religious themes and there is the odd straight love song to be found here, and the arrangements are more rock than gospel, but for all the slight style changes there is not much of substance underneath to get my attention.
As with most poor Dylan albums, there is a song or two that redeems it. Here the closer, `Every Grain Of Sand' fills the role. Using his trademark metaphysical imagery Dylan uses the song to explore the notion of faith, and what it means to him. It is a great, impassioned, beautifully written piece that is almost worth getting the rest of the album for. Nothing else on the album really makes any impression or can be remembered after several listenings.
All in all two stars. Mostly forgettable, but with one great and classic Dylan track.