3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The real Bob Dylan at his best,
This review is from: Love And Theft (Audio CD)
Love and Theft is easily Bob Dylan's best CD in a long time. I think a line from the song Mississippi sums this album up fairly well: "Things are starting to get interesting right about now." After almost forty years in the business, Dylan is still putting out some of the best music he has ever written and recorded. It lacks the passion and underlying spirit of rebellion found in his early releases, but Love and Theft stands well above the vast majority of music being recorded these days. In Summer Days, Dylan says that you can repeat the past, and in a way, that is what he has done here. This Bob Dylan is a conglomeration of all the Bob Dylans that have come and gone for; drawing on varied aspects of his musical legacy, he manages to return to the basics while at the same time offering a fresh variety of sounds and musical approaches on these twelve tracks.
Mississippi would be my favorite song here; the manner of Dylan's extended delivery of incredible lyrics brings to mind classic songs such as Tangled Up in Blue. If you like energetic, toe-tapping rockers, Dylan proves he won't be performing sitting down for many a year with Lonesome Day Blues and Cry a While, two songs also heavily tinged with the blues, as well as Honest With Me. Summer Days is quite unusual, combining verifiable swing music with a strong pinch of rockabilly. On High Water (for Charlie Patton), Dylan incorporates the banjo and also possibly the mandolin, while Floater (Too Much to Ask) seems to feature violin music that works especially well in the transitions. I normally would not think of violins and Bob Dylan together, but the combination works fabulously. Floater is also notable for its plucky rhythm and subtly humorous lyrics. This album also features some slow, even poignant songs which I find it hard to describe. I could actually imagine the songs Bye and Bye and Moonlight being sung by a Sammy Davis Jr. to the accompaniment of the incomparable Laurindo Almeida. Po' Boy is another slow song, but it has a little stronger guitar playing pushing it along. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum gets this album off to a great start, and Sugar Baby, a reflective song about looking backwards at the past closes it out on a magical note.
Dylan's voice isn't what it used to be, but I find the distinguished, gravel-like nature of it quite enjoyable, especially on tracks featuring a good beat and forceful lyrics. It can sound a little strained at times, but what we get in Love and Theft is the real Bob Dylan. He seems to recognize his place in history, appreciating the great days of the past but charging ahead proudly into the future. The music is what matters to him, and he presents it honestly and openly; the sense of comfort he seems to possess at this stage in his legendary career allows the words and music to emerge naturally, and I believe that is the secret of his unparalleled success.