Album #173: Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Hibbing, Minnesota, USA
  • Label: Columbia
  • Best Track: I Contain Multitudes

In what is probably an all-time first for the UK album chart, the top two positions are currently occupied by two men with a combined age of over a century and a half. Just ahead of Neil Young at the top spot is songwriting legend Bob Dylan, with an incredible 39th studio album of a career spanning nearly 60 years.

Rough and Rowdy Ways his first in eight years to consist of original material, and is full of his usual literature-rich social commentaries. ‘I Contain Multitudes’ is a brilliant collection of contradictions, and paves the way for a somewhat snarly, defiant tone that runs through the album.

I have to say I’ve always liked Dylan much more as a lyricist than as a music. Probably sacrilegious to say it, but I find the music on this record a little boring and samey. I actually found it more rewarding to sit and read the lyrics than to listen to the album.

Maybe it’s lost on me as the album seems to have solid nines or tens in reviews across the board. I suppose before I accuse it of being one-paced, I have to acknowledge that Dylan is 79 years old and and can hardly be expected to spit out quickfire lyrics like on ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ or hold a note like on ‘The Times They Are a-Changin”. And while the music sounds like stuff I’ve heard many times before, I guess Dylan did kind of invent it.

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