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Johanna's Vision of Zimmy's Songbook
on 31 March 2006
No one is better placed to get inside the heart of Dylan's songs than the woman who once had a place in his own heart. This is the only Dylan covers album you really need, because the soul and passion of her covers is unequalled and unable to be bettered.
It's all very well Judy Collins &c. churning out Dylan covers albums, we all know the songs are great, but what we have here is a radical reinterpretation sung with beauty, elegance and poise, wih backing musicians that Dylan used on John Wesley Harding who all know the songs very well, and flush them out into fuller accompaniments than the Zim permitted on JWH.
But what really counts here is the emotion behind her voice, in songs she clearly cares about and mean something to her, more than they can mean to any other artist. The plangent beauty of Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands and the resignation of Walking Down the Line, the rueful freedom of You Ain't Going Nowhere and the heart-stopping definitive version of Love Is Just a Four Letter Word makes you wonder how many of these songs were actually written about HER? It's the musical equivalent of reading someone's love letters.
One's emotional involvement is enhanced by the exquisite musicianship of Buttrey and all the Nashville top dogs. This album will become a firm favourite; it's certainly in my Top Ten to Take to a Desert Island. It's great value too, because originally it was a double vinyl album. Disregard the two bonus tracks, they're ten-a-penny versions and they spoil the mood of intimacy and poignancy that dominates this songbird's beautiful paean to a former lover.