Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quick Reaction: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life

I didn't know until I opened the CD that Together Through Life is (with one track excepted) a songwriting collaboration between Dylan and Robert Hunter, lyricist for many a classic Grateful Dead song. Hunter didn't write the music, but could his involvement have been responsible for the new album's shuffling, bluesy, after-hours feel? To my ears, most of these cuts would have fit nicely on a Dead album circa 1976. Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers plays guitar, but I barely hear his work at all here. David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and his accordion are far more prominent on most tracks and hints of mandolin and steel guitar hang around at the corners of several songs. Lyrically my favorites are the bone-dry "My Wife's Home Town" and the summer evening on the porch flavored "I Feel A Change Comin' On." Overall "Together Through Life" is strong second-tier Dylan; I don't see it being remembered as a classic. Rather it's the sound of an artist flexing his muscles and enjoying himself in new company while figuring out what to do next.

1 comment:

Tony Adams said...

I kind of agree...after 3 listens, I really like this album but I don't think it's up there with TOOM, L&T or even MT (which eventually grew on me). Sounds to me like he's really comfortable in his place and doesn't feel the need to impress anyone.
I agree that it's a strong 'second tier' album - like say New Morning, Desire...