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Bob Dylan - Modern Times - Columbia

For his 31st (!) studio album, Bob Dylan has not really broken any new ground, but the musically sacred ground he continues to till is rich indeed. Modern Times is an album that only Dylan - with his peerless wordplay and insight - could make sound as, well, modern as it does.

This time around, Dylan has employed his road band to back him up, and the 100 + gigs per year that they work with him has made them uniquely qualified to record with this legend. They sound like a complete unit throughout Modern Times, and that cohesion gives this new album relaxed soul and immediacy at the same time. The album's ballads and blues re-makes continue a pattern that Dylan has etched out for himself in the past ten years or so. His voice, always a tattered treasure, is even more ragged this time around, but the mere personality of the man and his wonderful lyrics always manage to help the songs rise above any perceived shortcomings. He's a performer and songwriter with a complete understanding and appreciation of the blues - real blues - and I have no doubts that that quality continues to make his music ring true.

Whether he's name checking Alicia Keys, or updating Memphis Minnie and Muddy Waters, Dylan does it with complete confidence on Modern Times. At age 65, he's just getting comfortable. May he stay "Forever Young"...

Written by Dan Reed


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