Yes, it is 2023, and I am writing about Bob Dylan's new album. I knew I'd write about him, but I hesitated because it was so hard to choose an album. Luckily, Shadow Kingdom makes it a no-brainer.
When you get interested in music, you'll stumble into Dylan sooner than later. Having started with Queen, Police, and Scorpions, I took a longer route than those who started with The Dead, but I sure got there. You can't escape once you are there; his influence reaches deep and far, yet he is as unique as an artist can get. His deep lyrics gain new meaning over the years; they grow with you. With the Shadow Kingdom, he allows us to feel like we are listening to them for the first time.
I once heard an interview in which he was asked what he thought of his venerated early work, to which he replied: "I feel I don't know who wrote them…
Someday, everything is gonna be different
When I paint my masterpiece
… that's profound. I can't write that now. That's somebody else." With plenty of cover songs and albums ranging from The Byrds to Maroon 5, we've heard Dylan's songs elevated or trashed, but who else could cover some of his best work better than him at 83 years old. He is an uncompromising artist that has never lived off exploiting his early success.
Having the opportunity to listen to these classic songs reimagined by an artist that seems to embrace his young self and add all the refinement and taste that 60 years of playing has given him is something to be thankful for. This album is a slap in the face to U2's pathetic "Songs of Surrender."
I recently finished Bob's book "The Philosophy of Modern Song," a book in which he tells how songs ranging from "Volare" to "London Calling" were written, recorded, and sung, but more importantly, how he empathizes with what the authors wrote. In Shadow Kingdom, he seems to be doing that with his own songs, only he lets the empathy to us, as he's done for over 50 years.
Dylan's new album, Shadow Kingdom reinvigorates his timeless classics with artistic growth and maturity leaving us eagerly anticipating what he has in store for the future.