90 FM Album Review: Bob Dylan - "Tempest"
Jesse Hinze - 90FM Station Manager
jhinz431@uwsp.edu







Tempest, Bob Dylan’s 35th studio album, is yet again another work that continues his late career renaissance since 1997’s classic Time Out of Mind. Over the last fifteen years, Dylan has released, in my eyes, two albums that are among the best in his cannon (the aforementioned Time Out of Mind and 2001’s Love and Theft), two very solid efforts (2006’s Modern Times and 2009’s Together Through Life) and one very odd Christmas album. Tempest seems destined to end up in that first category, as Dylan has continued to bask in the longest creative hot streak in his career.

Tempest follows in the same vein of Dylan’s recent work, which for the most part means a standard bar band blues beat with occasional accordion. To the untrained eye, this may seem like a boring choice of musical backing, but Dylan’s vocals make it jump to life in an unexpected way. His voice, never great to begin with, has eroded to the point that he now finally sounds like one of the blues singers to come out of the Mississippi Delta- rough, ragged and vocals stretched to their limits.

​Bob Dylan - "Tempest" 2012 Columbia.
  

Although Tempest features several songs epic in scope, such as the fourteen minute title track on the wreck of the titanic, the nine minute Tin Angel, which tells the tale of a lovers triangle gone wrong and the seven minute Narrow Way, which takes place over a roaring fiddle beat where at one point Dylan exclaims “I’m going to have to take my head and bury it between your breasts”, I believe the albums two centerpieces are the closing tracks from each side of the album. Pay In Blood finds Dylan ruminating on life angrily, with the microphone clearly as close as it can get to capture all the venom and road weariness in his voice. With a rollicking piano beat that recalls something Warren Zevon would’ve created in the late 70’s, Dylan gives his most impassioned vocal of the album, as well as some of its best lines. The other soon to be classic is the albums closing track, Roll On John. Written as an elegy to his long dead former peer John Lennon, Dylan mixes and mashes Lennon lyrics, William Blake poetry and the Lord’s Prayer into a startlingly emotional album closer.

In short, Tempest finds Dylan at the top of his game, giving us an album full of misery, lost love, greed, corruption and love all mixed to form a work that will surely over time only grow in stature. If you are a core Dylan fan, a beginner or haven’t ever really looked into his music but have just heard the name, tune into 90FM this weekend(the 28th through the 30th) and check out Dylan Days, a 56 hour extravaganza of straight Dylan music. Trust me, it’ll be worth your time.