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(Columbia)

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Don’t be put off by the “offhand, crudely informal” feel of Bob Dylan’s latest album, said Joel Selvin in the San Francisco Chronicle. Beneath those “tossed-off” melodies and lyrics that at first read like rough drafts lies a brilliant collection of “pungent, piquant observations.”

Coming on the heels of two excellent albums, though, Together Through Life seems to be a “mixed bag of this decade’s Dylan,” said David Fricke in Rolling Stone. Familiar elements here include border blues, pedal-steely ballads, and dusty tales of an “ugly America” that may or may not exist. Though the album covers familiar ground, there’s a “grim magnetism coursing through these 10 songs.”

Back when he was Bob Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minn., Dylan “reveled in pretending to be world-weary” like his idols, said Rob Sheffield in Blender.com. Now nearly 68, with “an honest–to–Woody Guthrie economic crash” on his hands, he ought to be “having the time of his life.”