Thursday, December 31, 2009

Music Decade List #2: Bob Dylan - Love and Theft (2001)

Love & Theft is Bob Dylan's best album since Blood on the Tracks, and in that middle 25 years, he tried a lot of different styles but never found one that fit as well as here. Taking a variety of styles, from blues, bluegrass, jazz, and swing, these are a set of retro sounding songs that fit the croaky rasp of his that has defined his current years. I prefer the bluesier or more upbeat numbers on the album, songs like 'Summer Days' and 'Lonesome Day Blues' with Dylan and his crack touring band tearing out propulsive rhythms. The albums sounds much more vibrant and punchy compared to more rueful, swampy Daniel Lanois production of Time Out of Mind. Above it all, Dylan's songwriting is at the fore but here it takes on a different vein. These aren't "important" folk songs nor are they the dense, imagisitc works of his mid-60s heyday. The material is more direct here, with humor and an adaptation of styles that make everything sound authentic. There's a joke about every stanza in 'Summer Days' and for those who think the man can't write a great song, check out 'Mississippi'. Everything about Love & Theft has a easiness about it, that Dylan could toss out a couple of sessions and the results are this, another great record that sums up the history of the man and his influences.

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