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Josh Hurst

Bob Dylan - Shadows in the Night (2015)

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Not sure of the best place to file this, but: Dylan has released a new song, a cover of an old standard associated with Frank Sinatra. Details, such as they are, can be found here.

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Not sure of the best place to file this, but: Dylan has released a new song, a cover of an old standard associated with Frank Sinatra. Details, such as they are, can be found here.

 

Nice. I know, it's Dylan-channeling-Bing-Crosby, and that's not universally loved. But I appreciate the performative, cracked sentimentality of Dylan's work in this area.

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The all-covers album will be out February 3.

 

 

I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way. They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.

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A tremendous and candid interview in AARP.

 

 

Q: These songs conjure a kind of romantic love that is nearly antique, because there’s no longer much resistance in romance. That sweet, painful pining of the ’40s and ’50s doesn’t exist anymore. Do you think these songs will fall on younger ears as corny?

A: You tell me. I don’t know why they would, but what’s the word “corny” mean exactly? These songs are songs of great virtue. That’s what they are. People’s lives today are filled with vice and the trappings of it. Ambition, greed and selfishness all have to do with vice. Sooner or later, you have to see through it or you don’t survive. We don’t see the people that vice destroys. We just see the glamour of it — everywhere we look, from billboard signs to movies, to newspapers, to magazines. We see the destruction of human life. These songs are anything but that.

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Then this:

 

 

But as interpreted by Bob Dylan, more accurate is to consider the entirety of "Shadows in the Night" as a gathering of meditations, or a booklet of hymns, or a selection of reveries.Ten songs, 34 minutes, a soaring lifetime's worth of emotion conveyed with the fearlessness of a cliff diver spinning flips and risking belly flops in the open air — that's Dylan and his band on the graceful, often breathtaking "Shadows."

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Erlewine:

 

 

His voice shows gravelly signs of wear but he knows how to use his weathered instrument to its best effect, concentrating on the cadence of the lyrics and digging deep into their emotional undercurrent. In that sense, Shadows In The Night a truer Sinatra tribute than the stacks of smiling, swinging empty tuxes snapping along to "It Had To Be You," for Dylan inhabits these songs like an actor, just like Frank did way back when.

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My copy came in today. I'm enjoying it--as someone who's a fan of the Great American Songbook, anyway--and really loving how Dylan's rotting voice complements the lyrics. This may be the least essential album Dylan's produced in years, but, unlike his Christmas album (which I love for reasons having nothing to do with quality), it's reasonably solid and not so cynical as one would expect from the line "Bob Dylan sings Sinatra." 

 

Highlights:

"I'm a Fool to Want You"

"Stay with Me"--where the religious nature of the song and Dylan's voice mesh in the manner of his best work for the past decade-and-a-half.

"Some Enchanted Evening"--yes, "Some Enchanted Evening." 

"Full Moon and Empty Arms"

Edited by NBooth

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It's really lovely.

 

And I am not so sure that it's inessential. Both in terms of writing and performance, I think there may be more to it than anything he has recorded since Modern Times. (And by the way, I like all of those albums plenty.) It also dovetails with his recent records-- including the Christmas one-- and compliments them quite nicely. At the same time, Dylan actually illuminates these old songs in a way that no recent "standards" album does: He peels back the excess and reveals new shades of meaning within them. He proves them to be-- what else?-- great folk songs.

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It's really lovely.

 

And I am not so sure that it's inessential. Both in terms of writing and performance, I think there may be more to it than anything he has recorded since Modern Times. (And by the way, I like all of those albums plenty.) It also dovetails with his recent records-- including the Christmas one-- and compliments them quite nicely. At the same time, Dylan actually illuminates these old songs in a way that no recent "standards" album does: He peels back the excess and reveals new shades of meaning within them. He proves them to be-- what else?-- great folk songs.

 

Very good points. He's been veering toward the standards in different ways over the last few albums, and the sound of this album meshes very well with the direction he's been heading musically. I also agree that the restriction to voice and a couple of instruments does emphasize the lyrical possibilities in the songs. (Regarding proving these to be folk songs, I'm thinking the best example is "Lucky Old Sun," no?) So perhaps "least essential" was a bit harsh.

Edited by NBooth

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"Say what you want about Sinatra, but at least the man could swing."

 

- Actual line from Pitchfork's review of this album

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Pitching the fork is the new jumping the shark. Those guys are just long-form clickbait.

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