Bob Dylan Takes His Time

noah | April 27, 2009 10:00 am

Our look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to Together Through Life, the 33rd studio album by Bob Dylan: • “But he saves the real Bosch canvas of negativity for the end, in the zydeco shuffle ‘It’s All Good.’ Mr. Dylan sets up one ugly scene after another—verminous restaurants, murderers on the prowl, disease, basic human melancholy—and at the end of every verse sings, ‘It’s all good, it’s all good.’ This is not a great song, and very little on Together Through Life seems destined for his repertory’s long haul. But whether this is basic devilishness, or Malthus revisited, or acceptance of faith, or just a clever poem juxtaposing protest rhetoric with do-nothing rhetoric, it all suits him.” [Ben Ratliff, NYT] • “Dylan sounds comfortable cruising with this band, repudiating the bombast and the clutter of 21st Century rock and pop. That’s both praise and criticism, because Together Through Life never quite kicks into a higher gear. Heard at a distance, it suggests a toss-off from an artist who has done better work in the past. He has. But he also has ‘the blood of the land in my voice,’ as he sings in ‘I Feel a Change Comin’ On.’ To quote another irascible iconoclast, a man’s got to know his limitations. And Dylan makes the most of his.” [Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune] • “Increasingly, the now-68-year-old Dylan makes music that outwardly has less and less to do with ‘modern times.’ Together Through Life continues that trend, and though it’s not the strongest of his 21st-century work, it still demonstrates Dylan’s ability to make music that connects with a resonating past, while speaking to the here and now.” [Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer] • “But Dylan is just as sure, in nearly every other song here, that there is strength in numbers—and that number is two.” [David Fricke, Rolling Stone]