For any Dylan fans who were wondering; his new album Tempest is better than his 2009 effort Together Through Life, on a par with 2006’s Modern Times and absolutely nowhere near as amazing as his sensational novelty Christmas album Christmas in The Heart. Seriously, that is the best album the guy has ever made.
What all of these albums show however is that we are living in another golden era of Dylan, with Tempest being its latest instalment. First track ‘Duquesne Whistle’, co-written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, is typical of Dylan’s ability to take an old genre of music and bring something new and unique from it. The video for the song is also a must see, a bizarre visual reflection of the sinister Charlie Chaplin persona that the 71 year-old has been using in recent years.
Following the open track is a series of songs which are essentially folk-tales, complemented with a cast of forlorn characters, set to music played by a very traditional sounding blues band. These tracks flow into each other effortlessly, with Dylan’s lyrical prowess as impressive as ever, giving the Dylan-oligists out there a whole sea of new material to ponder over.
Perhaps the only disappointment is the lack of musical ambition showed in the title-track ‘Tempest’, a lengthy song written about the Titanic. Although the track is a piece of poetic genius, it is a shame that the lyrics aren’t reinforced well musically, certainly not with the same dynamism and invention as Dylan showed with genre-redefining ballads like ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Tangled up in Blue.’
Some have said that this will be the last we hear from Mr. Zimmerman, being that the album shares its name with Shakespeare’s final play. However, from the quality of Tempest it would seem that Dylan has plenty more to give and that his “never-ending tour” through the world of music will continue to roll on.