Bob Dylan is old. This fact simply cannot be denied.
But does his music have a “timeless” quality? Although the answer to that question is certainly debatable, the folk legend’s latest album, Tempest, reinforces the general consensus that Dylan has created something eternal with his songwriting.
The album opens with “Duquesne Whistle,” a bouncy tune with a ’40s rhythm to it, complete with Dylan’s growly tones preaching “You say I’m a gambler, you say I’m a pimp, but I ain’t neither one.”
Only two of the album’s tracks are less than four minutes long, and most of the songs range between five and nine minutes. Despite these lengthy tunes, Dylan’s musical poetry will likely make you listen again and again without pause.
“Narrow Way” continues with Dylan’s upbeat storytelling; the electric guitar gives this tune more of a rock ’n’ roll sound.
The album’s title track, “Tempest,” tells listeners the story of the sinking of the Titanic, though the nearly 14-minute long track might lose one or two listeners whose allegiances lie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s edition.
“Scarlet Town” has a great banjo accompaniment, and Dylan’s weathered voice actually fits the melancholy tune.
“Roll On, John” pays tribute to John Lennon and might be the strongest track on the album simply because of its emotional resonance to the former compatriot of Dylan’s who died in 1980. Despite the harshness of Dylan’s voice (the man is in his 70s), his ability to tell a story through song has not decreased.
Tempest contains great music for fans of Dylan and folk music, and the folk singer’s nonchalant attitude carries on heavily. The album is Dylan’s 35th studio album in 50 years of recording, and numbers like that aren’t easily ignored.
But despite such benchmarks in the music industry, Dylan’s latest album is good but not spectacular. More than anything, Tempest is classic Dylan and provides listeners with throwback tastes of folk you can nod your head to but nothing to make your mind do musical backflips.