Thursday, April 24, 2008

No. 467: Love and Theft

Band: Bob Dylan
Album: Love and Theft
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Dylan's songs about the South span genres and have him producing interesting lyrics about history, emotion and stories. Touching on mortality and conflict, "Love and Theft" is excellently layered.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Dylan's recent (the last 10 years) records are mostly masturbatory. Interesting? Sure. But, also really silly.
Best song: "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" isn't bad.
Worst song: "Floater" sounds like a floater. (rim shot)
Is it awesome?: Not really.

Oddly enough, we have two albums this week released on the same exact day, a rather important day in American history. Both "The Blueprint" and "Love and Theft" dropped on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Love and Theft" is, like "Time Out of Mind", Dylan's fall into Tom Waits territory. The idea of the album is the American South, from the Mardi Gras hop of "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" to the religiosity of "Sugar Baby." "High Water" speaks of the great Louisiana flood, "Summer Days" has a Southern R&B feel and "Mississippi" is, well, about the state.

It's not a horrible record, but it can get annoying. "Bye and Bye" is a sweet ballad, but Dylan's voice hurts it. "Po' Boy" isn't impressive. The self-immolation of "Floater" was lifted from a Japanese novel.

Dylan was a great songwriter and records like this are interesting. He knows how to construct intelligent songs, but he cannot sing them with any semblance of grace. His band is pretty good, but the music often meanders.

It's not fantastic, but it's interesting.


Anonymous said...

I disagree with you entirely. "Love and Theft" is probably Dylan's strongest album strictly musically speaking, and the song writing is especially sharp, especially on the unfairly lambasted "Po' Boy". "Honest With Me" is the closest to a barnstormer Dylan's got to in ages.

Give it another listen. The record really grows on you after a bit.

kellydwyer said...

Come on. How great is "Summer Days"?