Top positive review
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I love it, but I'm sure not everybody will
on 31 December 2012
Dylan seems to be a very divisive musician - people seem to either love him or hate him. I'm in the former camp, but with reservations. His output over the years has varied greatly in quality and enjoyability, but you'll rarely find two Dylan fans who agree on which song is treasure and which is trash. Such a beast was his last album, Together Through Life (apart from the Christmas album, which I try not to count). I found it to be tired, lacking in ideas and, musically, redundant. Other Dylan fans will disagree, as it received its fair share of critical praise. This did mean that I wasn't exactly salivating with anticipation when I saw that Bob was releasing a new album this year, but, thankfully, Tempest is one of the best Dylan albums of the last couple of decades, certainly up there with Love & Theft, Modern Times and Time Out Of Mind. Unlike his last studio album of original material, Tempest sounds fresh, urgent and the lyrics have a sense of purpose and creativity. Of course, Bob's voice isn't getting any more youthful and the way he growls his way through the album will probably only ever appeal to Dylan fans, much in the same way Cohen or Waits polarise music lovers with their delivery. My favourite tracks include "Roll On John", a tribute to John Lennon which starts with his assassination and then goes on to reference so much of his remarkable life, the title track, "Tempest", a fourteen minute long epic poem set to music about the Titanic and the chugging, 1920s-influenced "Duquesne Whistle". It's all extremely good, though - not the best thing he has ever done, but certainly enough to restore my faith in his songwriting ability.