This week has seen the release of Bob Dylan’s 39th album, Rough And Rowdy Ways, which has shot straight in the albums chart at #1. This makes him the oldest artist to reach number one in the UK charts with an album of new material. The album is Dylan’s first batch of new songs in eight years. It was met with rave reviews, with Rolling Stone calling it “one of his most timely albums ever” and The Guardian describing it as “a testament to his eternal greatness”.
In fact, most reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, earning a 95/100 rating from Metacritic based. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph awarded the album five stars out of five. Anne Margaret Daniel, reviewing for Hot Press, said “Rough and Rowdy Ways is a record we need right now, and it will endure.” Mikael Wood, in the Los Angeles Times, said the album “rolls out one marvel after another.” Writing for Slate, Carl Wilson called the release Dylan’s best in “many years, maybe even decades” for the breadth of its cultural references and the depth of Dylan’s lyrics and songwriting. Jon Pareles, chief music critic for The New York Times, labelled the album a “Critic’s Pick,” describing its songs as “equal parts death-haunted and cantankerous,” rivalling the “the grim, gallows-humoured conviction of his albums Time Out of Mind (1997) and Love and Theft (2001).” Writing for The Telegraph India, Jaimin Rajani said this release brings respite and diversity.
The songs “Murder Most Foul”, “I Contain Multitudes” and “False Prophet” have been released as singles but our favourite track is “Key West (Philosopher Pirate)” which sort of bubbles along. It’s as deep as a grave and as light as a feather and it feels like the climax of everything Bob has been trying to do produce for the last twenty years. Yet it is a simple song that simply describes a place and describes what happens there, then just lets the thematic content rise to the surface all on its own. No analysis. No hand-holding. Just Key West.
The song of the century.
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