Bob Dylan : Shadows In The Night, released February 2015

As a long-time fan of Bob Dylan, it is always good to receive another album into the collection. But will this one join the esteemed ranks of ‘Another Side Of Bob Dylan’ (1964), ‘Blood On The Tracks’ (1975), ‘Desire’ (1976), ‘Slow Train Coming’ (1979), ‘Time Out of Mind’ (1997), ‘Love And Theft’ (2001), ‘Modern Times’ (2006) and from the Bootleg Series I would add ‘Volume 4: The ‘Royal Albert Hall’ 1966 Concert’ and ‘Volume 5: Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue’ ?
Against the general opinion I am also a strong supporter of ‘Christmas In The Heart’, Bob’s charity seasonal cover versions from 2009. Christmas would not be the same without it…

That Christmas album may be some sort of starting point for his new disc, ‘Shadows In The Night’, a set of smoky, late-night versions of songs that were part of Frank Sinatra’s repertoire. I had accepted the evolution of his voice down an ever deepening gravel path but this album seems to reverse that and he is back to a more flowing, smoother singing style. Each song is a conventional statement of love or loss, though often with the lyrical twists inherent in some standards of the genre. Bob could easily have contributed his own compositions in this style, he has many examples, such as ‘Make You Feel My Love’, a low-profile but emotional highlight from 1997 (later turned into a global mega-seller by Adele), but this themed covers collection works very well.

Opener ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ slides in gently with pedal-steel guitar and sets a subtle musical tone with minimal instrumentation that carries on through the whole disc. Cleverly titled ‘The Night We Called It A Day’ steps up the pace almost imperceptibly, followed by the more stately stride of ‘Stay With Me’, released as a single. Lose yourself in the long introduction and the unbearably sad lyric of ‘Autumn Leaves’, enjoy the relaxed mood of ‘Why Try To Change Me Now’ and the well-known ‘Some Enchanted Evening’. The evocative mystical minor chords of ‘Full Moon and Empty Arms’ and the understated desperation of ‘What’ll I Do’. And two more for you to discover…

I don’t think it will quite join my list above, but it is a fine, atmospheric, intimate and emotionally-charged album, superbly played and sung.


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