As I am sure everyone is aware, Bob Dylan’s new record, Tempest, was released this week. I’ve listened to it a few times, and I’m still thinking about it. For me, the late career revival that he has been riding peaked with Time Out of Mind, which set a standard that the other records have to greater and lesser degrees failed to match — which is not to say that they haven’t been good records. Tempest doesn’t disturb that general view of things, but I’m still trying to decide just how good it is.
The music is roughly the same stew of blues, folk, and rock that has been served up on his last few records, with the blues predominant. The blues is a formulaic and repetitive genre, and this might account for my hesitation; at first blush much of the music does sound formulaic and repetitive, and I need time to really dig into the songs to find out what is going on. I can point out that the initial reviews have been generally positive (and have included a five-star review in Rolling Stone).
One of the immediately appealing songs on the record is called “Scarlet Town”, and I thought it would be fun to put it up alongside Gillian Welch’s recent song with the same title. I know, I know, these are pretty superficial grounds on which to select two songs for comparision, but, when you get right down to it, who needs more than superficial grounds to listen to two good songs?
(Note that his copyright lawyers have eagle eyes, and it is possible that this video will disappear shortly.)
If you’re so inclined, you can leave a note below saying which you prefer. I’m keeping my own opinion secret for now.