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Shadows In The Night

Bob Dylan

Columbia 2015

Review by David Bowling

 

Bob Dylan has surprised me a number of times during the course of his career and always in a good way, until now.  He has been a spokesperson for his generation and created words and music that lived in the present but with Shadows In The Night he has reached into the past to record and sing the words of past generations. The impact is not the same.

Dylan singing songs from the Great American Songbook is a stretch. The album is also a tribute to Frank Sinatra as he recorded all the songs during the course of his career, but when you compare his renditions to the ones presented here, Sinatra comes out the clear winner.

It is no doubt an album from the heart but does not translate to the mind or ear. His vocal style has always been unique and classic songs such as “I’m A Fool To Want You,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “The Night They Called It A Day,” and “”What’ll I Do” do not benefit from his interpretations. The selection of material also makes for an album that is repetitive and extremely laid back.

I am used to hearing these songs with an orchestra or big band but Dylan uses a small combo for backing, which is not in itself a bad move. He also uses a pedal steel guitar as a connecter and it shows flashes of his old creativity.

The best of the tracks is his take on “Autumn Leaves,” which he uses as a vehicle to explore the autumn of his life. There is also a wonderfully weary version of “That Lucky Old Sun,” which closes the album.

Shadows In The Night is an album that will elicit strong feelings, both positive and negative.  However , given the quality of his previous 35 studio albums, I don’t think it will rank as memorable, and anytime one wants to listen to some Dylan, this is not an album most people will choose.

 

Rating: **

 

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