Rough And Rowdy Ways

Bob Dylan

Columbia, 2020

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Every time Bob Dylan starts to slip from my musical consciousness, he returns with an album of music that reminds me why he has been one of the most influential and important musicians of the last half-century. He has just released his 39th studio album, 58 years since his first. It is also his first album of all new original material in eight years.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Rough And Rowdy Ways takes its place as one of the stronger albums of his career. Filled with the kind of imagery that only Dylan can create, and in some places only he can easily understand, he examines the world around him. There are also elements that are the product of his age. He is now one year shy of 80 years old, which has created thoughts and words that reflect upon his mortality.

The epic of the release is the 16-minute-and-54-second opus “Murder Most Foul.” It is a historical examination of the death of JFK within the context of American history and music. It is a song with many layers that will bring rewards with each listen.

The years are piling up for Mr. Dylan, and “Crossing The Rubicon” and “Key West (Philosophical Pirate)” are his reflections on the process of aging and what comes next.

Dylan has always been connected to the present and “Black Rider” looks at the virus laden world of today, while “False Prophets” approaches the present from a different perspective.

Except for a peppy tribute to Jimmy Reed; the music is slow 12-bar blues. The backing is very simple this time around with guitars and a basic rhythm section, which keeps the emphasis on the words and messages.

Rough And Rowdy Ways is an unexpected achievement from the 79-year-old Dylan. It is his statement that he remains one of music’s best and most thought-provoking artists.

Rating: A-

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