After spending much of the '90s touring and simply not writing songs, Bob Dylan returned in 1997 with Time Out of Mind, his first collection of new material in seven years. Where Under the Red Sky, his last collection of original compositions, had a casual, tossed-off feel, Time Out of Mind is carefully considered, from the densely detailed songs ...
After spending much of the '90s touring and simply not writing songs, Bob Dylan returned in 1997 with Time Out of Mind, his first collection of new material in seven years. Where Under the Red Sky, his last collection of original compositions, had a casual, tossed-off feel, Time Out of Mind is carefully considered, from the densely detailed songs to the dark, atmospheric production. Sonically, the album is reminiscent of Oh Mercy, the last album Dylan recorded with producer Daniel Lanois, but Time Out of Mind has a grittier foundation -- by and large, the songs are bitter and resigned, and Dylan gives them appropriately anguished performances. Lanois bathes them in hazy, ominous sounds, which may suit the spirit of the lyrics, but are often in opposition to Dylan's performances. Consequently, the album loses a little of its emotional impact, yet the songs themselves are uniformly powerful, adding up to Dylan's best overall collection in years. It's a better, more affecting record than Oh Mercy, not only because the songs have a stronger emotional pull, but because Lanois hasn't sanded away all the grit. As a result, the songs retain their power, leaving Time Out of Mind as one of the rare latter-day Dylan albums that meets his high standards. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
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Dylan's '97 Comeback a Sonically Striking Ensemble
At the time of its release in 1997, this Grammy-winning album was heralding the Third Coming of Dylan, and with good reason. Time Out of Mind is a stunningly coherent collection of songs that reaffirms and promptly cements Dylan?s relevance in current American music culture. It?s an album of well-crafted songs that runs from one to the next seamlessly, captivating the listener. It's a memory, a dream, a vision: reverberating blues-guitar riffs and haunting, shimmering chords of a distant organ, stitched together by soft snares rattling. One writer described it as sounding ?like it's being transmitted from The Bar at the End of the World?. To every degree, it does. There are two types of songs on the record: ghostly introspective ballads that envelop the listener in their crooning melodies, and 12-bar blues ditties that jingle-jangle with a strange, precise rockabilly energy. Lanois?s heavily atmospheric production brings an almost eerie, jazz-blues feel to the record that is hypnotic and works extremely well as support for Dylan? pinched, worn voice, which goes down like broken glass on gravel, stretching across notes and settling into the cracks of the moody instrumentation. Reincarnated this time as a modern day juke-joint bluesman, Dylan is haunted by love gone awry, loss, regret, and a preoccupation with time. A heavy dose of mortality impresses upon on tracks such as ?Not Dark Yet,? in which he contemplates the end of the line. The brooding opener ?Love Sick? (which you may recognize from a short-lived and kind of creepy Victoria?s Secret commercial), is superb and perfectly sets the stage for the mood of the rest of the album. ?Standing in the Doorway?, which has gone down as one of Dylan?s best compositions, is an overwhelmingly beautiful and sad song that speaks volumes: ?Maybe they?ll get me / And maybe they won?t / But not tonight and it won?t be here?, he sings. The swirling sonic experience continues to deliver on track after track as Dylan?s songwriting shows a mature, thoughtful lyricist who isn?t ready to throw in the towel yet. Only "Make You Feel My Love," a piano-driven ballad dragged down by cheesy Hallmark card lyrics and terrible couplets (?When the wind is blowin' in your face/And the whole world is on your case?) breaks the album's spell. The rest is works to produce a sonically striking yet understated album that is less instantly arresting than Dylan?s classics, but nearly as disconcerting and undoubtedly as original. Slip it in on a late night and enjoy the heartbreak broadcast from the ?Bar at the End of the World.?
Essential Tracks: ?Love Sick?, ?Standing in the Doorway?, ?Not Dark Yet?, ?Cold Irons Bound?. Weakest Track: ?Make You Feel My Love? positively cringes with trite, saccharin rhymes.