Album: Bob Dylan, Together Through Life (Columbia)

4.00

In a recent interview on his website, Bob Dylan expresses his enduring love for the sound of old records on the Sun and Chess labels, from the roots of rock'n'roll and urban blues.

It's all about mood and intensity, he believes: "The sound is uncluttered. There's power and suspense. The whole vibration feels like it could be coming from inside your mind." Small wonder, then, that for Together Through Life, he returns to the fruitful well of the blues that has stood him in such good stead over the years, and particularly through the last decade. This time, though, it's not wielded in the slick, focused, well-thought-out style that characterised Modern Times, but more in the impromptu manner he so admires in those Chess records, and which characterises his approach to live performance.

Accordingly, the ghosts of the great Chicago bluesmen haunt these song structures, whether it's the updated, itchy echoes of Muddy Waters in "Shake Shake Mama" and "It's All Good", the rolling R&B flavour of Otis Rush's "Homework" ingeniously trussed up with horns and accordion in "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'", or the enervated adaptation of Willie Dixon's "I Just Want To Make Love To You" that furnishes the undercarriage to "My Wife's Home Town". But these are no mere exercises in pastiche, a fact that becomes clear through the almost constant presence of David Hidalgo's accordion, which seeps into the blues songs like an emotional stain, its fluttering tones leavening the bitterness of "My Wife's Home Town" and lightening the dark heart of "Forgetful Heart", a haunted return to "Love Sick" territory which finds the singer once again at the end of his tether: "We loved with all the love that life can give/What can I say? Without you it's so hard to live".

The same sentiment recurs in "Life Is Hard", where "from day to barren day, my hopes just rot away". Commissioned to accompany a film by Oliver Dahan, it proves an incongruent trigger for such a bluesy album, its lap steel and mandolin carrying one of Dylan's most uncomfortably pitched croons. More amenable is the lovely "I Feel a Change Comin' On", a wedding song of balmy contentment which nevertheless contains some of the album's oddest non sequiturs, such as: "Some people they tell me I got the blood of the lamb in my voice".

Together Through Life, then, features Dylan in fairly relaxed, spontaneous mood, content to grab such grooves and sentiments as flit momentarily across his radar. So while it may not contain too many landmark tracks, it's one of the most naturally enjoyable albums you'll hear all year.

Download this: "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'", "It's All Good", "I Feel a Change Comin' On", "Forgetful Heart", "My Wife's Home Town"

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen