'The Times They Are A-Changin'' doesn't progress from what Bob Dylan did on 'Freewheelin''. Rather, it broadens his protest-oriented repertoire. Perhaps the gloomiest of his albums, it seems to be the only one from which his sense of humour is entirely absent. There is a slight shift in emphasis from anti-war songs to the effects of social injustice and hardship. Nevertheless, 'With God On Our Side' would have fitted in with the dominant theme on his previous album. The lyric, and in particular, its closing verse, is brilliantly crafted, though Dylan's delivery is occasionally disjointed by sloppy tempo changes, perhaps an attempt to break up its seven minutes.
The title track is probably the best-known item on the album, in large part due to the status it gained as a slogan, a kind of rallying call. It sets the tone for the whole album, characterised by Dylan's sober drawl and songs of relentless, unchanging form. The latter technique works well on the folky blues of 'Hollis Brown'. Dylan uses the guitar to add sombre colour to the song, which is a 'what-drives-a-man-to-kill' lyric of the sort featured liberally on Bruce Springsteen's early 1980s album, 'Nebraska'.
'North Country Blues' is probably the gloomiest recording, relating the anguish and hardships endured by redundant miners. Sandwiched between this and 'With God On Our Side', the reflective 'One Too Many Mornings' almost seems like light relief. 'Hattie Carroll' is another death song. It's one of Dylan's more articulate performances, though, ironically, I believe, there are doubts as to the authenticity of the slant Dylan puts on the story.
This album may not be perfect then, but it's still blindingly powerful and a remarkable forty-five minutes for 1964.