The new Bob Dylan release "Together Through Life" has just been released and it's very listenable and surprisingly enjoyable.
After my first few listens I would describe it has a cross between his last two studio releases, "Love and Theft" and "Modern Times". The sound is very laid back with nice loose feel but featuring top notch playing by Dylan's crack band. The recording quality is first rate with a clear sound and an uncluttered mix.
The songs themselves are a mix of Dylan's recent penchant of country blues, reworkings of classic tunes and slow ballads. The album is bookended by the two best tunes on the CD, starting with "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'", a song that could just as well have come from any of Dylan's last three releases and ending with "It's All Good", an almost weightless and light heart romp held together by Dylan's clever word play and the band's relaxed playing.
Of course there are plenty of Dylan's trademark corny rhyming couplets, such as:
"Buildings are crumbling in the neighborhood
But there's nothing to worry about 'cause it's all good"
"Well it's early in the evening and everything is still
One more time I'm a walking up on heartbreak hill"
Then there's Dylan's reworking of the classic "Midnight Special" entitled "If You Ever Go To Houston" or his cover of Willie Dixon's "My Wife's Home Town". I don't find Dylan's reworkings that offensive since Dylan's been doing basically the same thing throughout his long career by setting new lyrics to old folk melodies, now he's just doing the same thing with other musical genres.
As for Dylan's voice, always a sore point for many people, while it still sounds weathered and gruff, it does not sound strained or tired but relaxed and at ease.
On the whole this release breaks no new ground but I can easily see it becoming a favorite for listening to while sitting out on the deck enjoying a g&t and cooking up some ribs.