Album Review: Bob Dylan – Modern Times

Published On December 28, 2017 | By Francesca Lamaina | Record Rewind

My bad that I got really interested in Bob Dylan so late, my bad that it took me see Hamlet in the theatre to appreciate such a genius, but I guess that the important thing is that now I do like Bob Dylan. But why Hamlet? Well, recently Hamlet got a new production (direct by Robert Icke) and its setlist is entirely by Bod Dylan. Spirit on the Water is featured in one of the first scenes of the play and it recurs throughout the entire show. This song opened the door of Bob Dylan’s discography to me, starting from Modern Times.

Modern Times (2006) is the thirty-second studio album by Bob Dylan. It features and it is influenced by multiple genres, as rockabilly, folk rock and blues. Bob Dylan delivers a majestic performance, both in terms of lyrics and sounds, by portraying his emotions and soul. Listening to Modern Times is as diving into the past, living a journey in a time different from today. I believe that each of the ten songs deserves an entire review and an article to try to describe, appreciate and understand their complexity and beauty.

Thunder on the Mountain, portraing the life story of a singer, is the perfect opener thanks to its sentational guitar work, its rockabilly sound and its catchy and dreamy melody. 

Maybe you could have guess from the introduction, but my favourite track from Modern Times is Spirit on the Water. For me, it is so special because I personally associate it to Hamlet and every time that I listen to it, it brings to my mind emotional memories. Apart from my relationship with it, Spirit on the Water has an exceptional guitar sound and relaxed melody. In this song Dylan quotes the Genesis and he refers to his relationship with God and religion.

After the fast rhythm of Rollin’ and Tumblin’, the pace slows down with When the Deal Goes Down. In this track, Dylan’s poetry abilities and phenomenal lyrics shine through the melody. The lyrics here help to create a even deeper connection with the listener, thanks to their personal and emotional elements, elements which are present throughout the entire album too. 

Apart from the perfect lyrics, I already admired the phenomenal guitar work in this album, but the way the piano shine in some songs as Workingman’s Blues #2 is equally beautiful.

Finally, Ain’t Talkin’, the last song of the record, is characterised by the darkest and most mysterious sounds of Modern TimesCertainly, Bob Dylan’s Modern Times deserves more study and reflection: each song is a complex and articulated story with a phenomenal instrumental work. This short article’s aim is to give a brief introduction to such a majestic album, nothing more, nothing less.

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