Since the early ’60s, Bob Dylan has served as a musical icon whose powerful, and sometimes controversial, lyrics have entertained and inspired listeners for generations. Now, 50 years later, the 71-year-old musician proves once again that he is still just as iconic with the release of his 35th studio album, “Tempest.”
The album is reminiscent of many of his earlier albums. It contains many deeply profound lyrics placed over a soothing guitar riff. What separates this album from the rest, however, is its lack of Dylan’s signature sounds, such as the harmonica, that were often found in his early hits. Additionally, the transition from the bold, political messages that were once standard in his work to more personal, societal messages, such as the morality of man and the length at which one will go for love, diminishes the broad impact Dylan once had.
Within the album, few tracks seem to stand out from the rest. The exceptions are “Scarlett Town,” “Tin Angel” and “Roll On John,” which each seem to present themselves as a cut above the rest because of their heartfelt lyrics.
One song that stands out is the title track,“Tempest,” a 14-minute track about the Titanic. Though mellow in its tempo and melody, the song is moving in its descriptive storytelling. Dylan sings, “The pale moon rose in its glory/Out on the Western town/She told a sad, sad story/Of the great ship that went down.”
Nevertheless, there are still flaws with the album, including its overall slow tempo and pace as well as overly repetitive guitar riffs. Particular strains on his voice on certain tracks such as “Scarlett Town” are distracting and can create a loss of clarity in the words he sings.
Filled with repetitive musical progressions and mostly uninteresting underlying messages, “Tempest” is far from perfect. It is, however, far from mediocre, as Dylan’s lyrics evoke emotion and prove to be powerful enough to cause the listener to disregard the singer’s weathered voice and genuinely enjoy the music.
Overall Rating: 3 Stars
Bob Dylan released his 35th studio album “Tempest.”