Bob Dylan

Modern Times

Bob Dylan’s 31st studio album rolls and tumbles its way over the landscape of American music. It’s familiar terrain for Dylan, whose last studio album, Love and Theft, had a similar rockabilly bluesy swing to it. The players on Modern Times are also members of his touring band or, as Dylan puts it, his “cowboy band.” Cowboy band indeed. Dylan is still in top form—and the new record crackles with the same intensity as his live show, with songs of humor, retribution, love and murder. Modern Times seems to be Dylan sharing his world view without offering up any solutions to modern problems. Rather than delivering a scathing indictment, Dylan instead peppers the album with periodic barbs, like in “The Levee’s Gonna Break,” where he rumbles: “Some people on the road carryin’ everything they own / Some people got barely enough skin to cover their bones.” Dylan has long proclaimed to be living in a world gone wrong, and on Modern Times he continues to wear the mask of the everyman. These songs are all believable lamentations; after all, he is singing the blues.