Modern Times – Bob Dylan | CD review

(Columbia) 4.5 stars

Despite its title – or perhaps perversely – `Modern Times’ is rooted in American traditional music, continuing in style and mood where Dylan left off on 1997’s `Time Out of Mind’ and 2001’s `Love and Theft’.

Another stripped-back, loosely structured self-production (under his Jack Frost pseudonym) and backed by the “never-ending’’ tour band, the new CD is packed with forceful retro blues-rockers, lightly swinging ditties and warmly appealing ballads.

The “special edition’’ adds a DVD of four previous video performances.

For earnest Dylan disciples, the grizzled 65-year-old delivers sardonic ponderings on life and death.

But the gentler moments provide relief, so he’s not Grumpy Old Bob yet.

Overall, an underlying sense of humour and delight in the actual music-making pervade this entertaining and provocative album.

You are left with the impression that 21st century Dylan has morphed successfully into a contemporary blend of early musical influences, such as Woody Guthrie, Lonnie Johnson and Muddy Waters.

Dylan, in turn, continues to influence modern musicians.

- Mike Daly

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