Time Out Of Mind
The surprise hit of 1997 has to be the re-emergence of Bob Dylan as a viable musical force. Dylan first made news this past summer when he was hospitalized with a chest infection. At 56, Dylan was diagnosed with histoplasmosis, so he canceled a European tour, and received proper treatment and time to recuperate. Apparently, Dylan took advantage of his time off and made an album. It would be easy to assume that the most strinking trait about Time Out Of Mind could be Dylan's triumphant recovery and return. Not since Blonde On Blonde or Blood On The Tracks, has Dylan strung together such a heavenly flow of songs. This isn't to say that his albums of the late 70s and 80s haven't had their moments; but somehow, Dylan has been revitalized, coming to terms with who he is, and what he is capable of. In a nutshell, he is still the genuine article.
A big part of the album's simple, fluent approach falls on the shoulders of producer Daniel Lanois. Similar in what he did with Robbie Robertson, Lanois has drawn the roots out of Dylan, given it a modern twist, brought in some excellent musicians to back it all up, and accepted no less. That's why a song like "Lovesick" or "Not Dark Yet" sounds as Dylanesque as it does contemporary. Throughout the 11-song disc, Dylan's voice sounds more tuneful and passionate than ever. The low register with some ominous reverb sounds somewhere between Leonard Cohen and Leon Redbone, but the delivery and the words are clearly Dylan. At other times, it seems as though he's going after a Petty/Wallflowers vibe (lots of distortion and plenty of heavy-handed organ). Maybe he's learned a bit from his Traveling Wilbury bandmate or attempting to stay in step with his son — and in the process, teaching them both a thing or two. Indeed, Tom and Jacob should listen up.
Like so many vintage artists, Dylan has come full circle with his music. Ever the touring maverick, Dylan recently performed for Pope John Paul in Bologna, Italy. He will be playing a series of dates at several small night clubs and theatres in December and January. He'll more than likely embark on an extensive tour sometime next year, promoting his new album and roping in new fans in the process. For Dylan, the times are definately changing — for the better.
~ Shawn Perry