The effortless shuffle, standup bass and Louis Armstrong-esque vocals on “Duquesne Whistle” open up Bob Dylan’s 35th album, Tempest with a train ride through Pennsylvania in the days of old, proving that if your name is Bob Dylan, you are one of the few people alive who can get away with writing a train song in 2012 without ever coming across as forced or cliché. The title track, with its Celtic undertones and fiddle, comes off like a Civil War death march transported to the high seas and showcases his ever-present mastery for epic storytelling. Only Dylan could take the subject of the Titanic, make it sound relevant and antiquated at the same time, capturing attention for nearly 14 minutes without a second of boredom, using little more than a down-beat waltz and acoustic arrangement. Today, Dylan has a penchant for historical sentiment that alongside his country-blues band of proficient players, world-worn vocals and bygone-era lyrics fit him just as well as his custom cut western suits do his relic-like image. He looks like he walked out of an old cowboy film and still delivers that “Outlaw Blues” badass vibe on the songs like the roadhouse-infused “Narrow Way” that combines weary, reflective, ironic lyrics and evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bob Dylan is the original Americana artist and a man who will never cease to make quality albums as long as he continues to write songs.
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