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Bob Dylan – Shadow Kingdom

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Bob Dylan – Shadow Kingdom

by Oliver
on June 7, 2023
in Album

From the 2021 “Concert Film” Shadow Kingdom: The Early Songs of Bob Dylan The result is the 40th studio album (or, conversely, the second soundtrack work) of the now 82-year-old icon.

Drawing mainly on songs from the 1960s and early 1970s, Dylan interpreted his own material for the project Village Recorder from West Los Angeles – as a kind of adequate compensation for his Neverending Tour, which had to be paused during the pandemic – and shifts the stylistic emphasis from the singer-songwriter and folk location to Americana, with a staging twist: After about Buck Meek or Shahdzad Ismaily at least lent their fingers to Alma Har’el’s film is now also the staff of Shadow Kingdom known – Jeff Taylor (accordion), Greg Leisz (guitar, pedal steel guitar, mandolin), Tim Pierce (guitar), T-Bone Burnett (guitar), Ira Ingber (guitar), Don Was (upright bass), John Avila ( electric bass), Doug Lacy (accordion) and Steve Bartek (additional acoustic guitar): for the first time, a band in which Dylan manages without a drummer or percussionist.

This is one of the aspects that ensures that the new arrangements are tantamount to a rejuvenation act. Another is, at the latest, the enormously lively and relaxed Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine) makes it abundantly clear that the drive of the prominently represented harmonica also provides an omnipresent momentum, while everything here sounds so absolutely motivated. No number is just replayed without inspiration, each an unused drive.
The almost excited train and the jittery spirit of optimism make a difference I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight practically a new song, meanwhile It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue equally surprised where slowed down on the other end of the spectrum The Wicked Messenger again gets a more mature patience and also the 1989 piece What Was It You Wanted appropriating a hitherto unknown side without the originally rhythmic percussion fixation.
Tombstone Blues is now virtually thinned out to the slo-mo spoken word and vigorously invoked, To Be Alone with You comes easy and informal, Pledging My Time however bluesy and Watching the River Flow cultivates the roadhouse swing.

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The quieter, more introspective pieces such as Queen Jane Approximatelythe swaying coziness of Together Through Life and Rough and Rowdy Ways combining Just Like Tom Thumb’s Bluesthe melancholic drama of What Was It You Wanted as well as the symbiotic transition to the dolceola longing musing far from its roots Forever Youngin which the nostalgic view of old age is absolutely moving even without kitsch, the long connection to the songs creates additional depth, which also shows the courage to take relative risks and the few evergreens and hits from Shadow Kingdom putting it on par with a bunch of wonderful off-the-spot favorites.

Old Dylan covert Young Dylan is therefore tasteful, well thought out and absolutely emotional, and smart enough not to want to reproduce the iconic effect of the originals. The master himself sings inspired and grandiose, his band impresses with restrained grandeur.
That the credits with Sierra’s Theme – presumably either an instrumental variation of All Along The Watchtower or Hurricane? – therefore offers absolute satisfaction in the middle of the comforting discrepancy of timeless familiarity and captivating new perspective, is symbolic of the pleasing class with which Dylan would, if in doubt, also draw a beautiful, finally framing loop around his discography on the basis of 54 minutes.

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