Feature

Modern Times

The artist proves his lyrical mettle with a vintage Dylan album.

'œI hate to break it to Justin Timberlake, but a wheezy old man has recorded the best make-out songs of 2006,' said Jody Rosen in Slate.com. It's easy to forget that Bob Dylan, mislabeled for so many years as a protest singer or the 'œvoice of a generation,' was also the lusty dog who wrote 'œLay, Lady, Lay,' and pines after Alicia Keys on his latest work. Love has always been Dylan's greatest subject, and the same is true on Modern Times, an album of antique-sounding tunes that wishes love could conquer evil in this dark modern world, but knows it won't. 'œModern Times takes an hour, but it will give Dylan hawks years of enjoyable dissection,' said Andrew Dansby in the Houston Chronicle. The 65-year-old's voice is weakening, and so he depends more on his famously canny lyrics for these tracks. Even the title is a verbal puzzle, contradicting the record's pre-rock influences and alluding to the lovable tramp in Modern Times, the Charlie Chaplin movie about 'œthe stomping march of progress.' Dylan devotees will also see beyond the nostalgic surface of this album to the inner vitriol, said Pat Gilbert in Entertainment Weekly. If the CD ended with the ninth track, the redemptive 'œThe Levee's Gonna Break,' we could take the warm message at face value. But instead, the album closer is a nine-minute, half-spoken blues song called 'œAin't Talkin',' which describes an evil spirit haunting the earth, waiting for its destruction. Now that's Dylan with bite. 'œIntriguing, immediate, and quietly epic, Modern Times must rank among Dylan's finest albums.'

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