The last decade has been most fruitful for Bob Dylan. The acclaimed singer-songwriter created a trilogy of albums, with Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft and Modern Times, as strong as anything in his stellar discography. Meanwhile, he’s released a best-selling autobiography and enjoyed some prestigious exhibitions of his paintings.
Now the legendary artist, who has been compared to Mozart, Picasso and Shakespeare, has produced another masterpiece. Like his most recent albums, Together Through Life is full of compelling love songs, some with a dark twist. But the music has a raw, stripped-down sound that Bob likens to early blues and country recordings on the Chess and Sun labels. “I like the mood of those records—the intensity,” he admits. “There’s power and suspense. The whole vibration feels like it could be coming from inside your mind.”
Together Through Life feels a lot like that: immediate and visceral. It also has the cinematic sound of border café music, owing to the plaintive accordion of Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo. There are waltzes (“This Dream of You”) and Texas two-steps (“If You Ever Go to Houston”) and a lot of stomping, gut-bucket blues. And Mike Campbell, of Tom Petty’s the Heartbreakers, provides some snarling guitar work on “It’s All Good,” an ironic comment on the state of the American nation. On “I Feel a Change Comin’ On,” Bob sings “people tell me I got the blood of the land in my voice.” Sounding like a world-weary, gravely sage, he sure does.