Album Review: Bob Dylan, Desire (Columbia)

dylan-desire

Bob Dylan

Desire (Columbia)

This is a special album.  It is unique from anything Dylan has ever done, musically, structurally and lyrically.  Where some would argue that Dylan’s antimusical approach may hinder the text, I disagree.  I find Dylan to be at his captivating best.  I am seduced by the droning voices that are expertly coupled with the violin of Scarlet Rivera.  The co-written, prose like lyrics may indeed contain forced rhymes, but they tell fascinating stories of a grave robber, an unjustly jailed boxer and a mobster.  Most of the songs on the album are a nightmare, and running in fear is a transient theme throughout.  The idea of conceptual song writing here is embraced by Dylan, who bends all the rules he has previously set himself.  The eleven minute song lengths can become tedious, but they are interspersed by the more radio friendly four minute jangles. Dylan for the first time since his work with The Band, hired a group of guest musicians to aid the masterful compositions of melody that are apparent on this record.  The sweet southern belle voice of Emmylou Harris, works in tandem with Dylan’s sabulous warbling; and the sometimes duelling two work into an intense rock-country-folk frenzy.  Desire is a world of cultural disbelief and shock, with flourishes of raw beauty and power.

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