bob dylan: "fallen angels" review

Bob Dylan can pretty much do whatever he wants regardless of what critics or fans think of his musical direction.  To be honest, he has the right to.  50+ years of releasing amazing (and not-so-amazing) albums and songs that prove to be monuments of not just music, but lyrics and subjects that remain as relevant as ever now as when they were recorded.  Be it songs from the 60's, 70's, the 80's and so on.  His newest album "Fallen Angels" is released 4 days before his 75th birthday.  The troubadour showcases yet again that he still has tricks up his sleeve after all this time.

Recorded at Capitol Studios during the sessions for his 2015 album "Shadows in the Night", "Fallen Angels" continues Dylan's foray into the Great American Songbook, more specifically those of which Frank Sinatra has recorded in the same studio.  This project has been an aspiration of Dylan's since the 70's.  Timing is everything and waiting until the 2010's to do this was well worth it.  "Shadows in the Night" received numerous acclaims for taking a big band sound and making it work within the confines of Dylan's touring band.  Each song was recorded live in-studio with everyone in the same room.  All microphones minus Dylan's were meticulously hidden from view.  "Shadows in the Night" proved that the best music is, and always will be, recorded live.

                                                                         My love for Bob Dylan goes beyond his music.

                                                                         My love for Bob Dylan goes beyond his music.

It was known during the sessions for "Shadows in the Night" that another album's worth of songs were recorded that I hoped would be released.  Sure enough, they were.  Consisting of 12 songs and clocking in at almost 38 minutes, "Fallen Angels" continues the momentum of it's predecessor with such ease.  Bob Dylan can sing when he wants to.  Whether you think he sounds terrible or not is a matter of opinion.  This reviewer (and avid Dylan fan) is taken aback by the effort put by Dylan to not sound like he's ripping off Ol' Blue Eyes.  Each song shows his passion and love for these songs and making them his own while not straying from what makes these songs so memorable and loved.

I'm amazed how Dylan's touring band were able to make a big band sound without the use of a big band for these songs.  Their contribution to the record is essential to making "Fallen Angels" a unique listening experience.  We all know how songs like "Young at Heart", "All the Way" and "All or Nothing at All" sound like.  Dylan's vocals along with his band's performance make you look at these songs from a new angle and appreciate their respect to such legendary music.  "Maybe You'll Be There" makes you feel every lyric as Dylan paints them for you with his love-it-or-hate-it vocals.  I really love the arrangement for "Polka Dots and Moonbeams".  The acoustic opening that leads into a pedal steel guitar solo followed by the two combining for a beautiful build up to the first verse is simply beautiful.  The subtle brush drums and Dylan breathing during this just adds to the greatness of this song.  The man may not hit the notes like Sinatra, but I can bet you Dylan is purely going off emotion just like he always has.  In the end, that's what matters.  Music isn't perfect and isn't meant to be.

I could go on and on about how much I love "Fallen Angels".  From the big-but minimal musical arrangement to Dylan's vocal performance, this record is a beautiful companion to "Shadows in the Night".  "Fallen Angels" isn't for everyone, then again, the same can be said about Bob Dylan's music in general.  One can't deny how one man from Minnesota managed to change the world with his music and still continues to do as such to this day.  At 75 Bob Dylan is still going strong.  In a time where many legacy defining artists are passing away, it makes you appreciate much more the once-in-a-lifetime artists who still draw breath and create music.  Bob Dylan is certainly one of them whether you like him or not.  "Fallen Angels" proves Dylan will always go "All or Nothing at All".

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