BOB Dylan, the songwriter’s songwriter, dons his poet’s hat on his latest album and offers blunt imagery of a brutal world.
Dying ain’t easy in Tempest with the brooding Scarlet Town or Tin Angel’s evil description of the end of a violent family. In the cool rocker Pay in Blood, Dylan growls, “I pay in blood, but not my own.”
His older fans cringe when hearing the 71-year-old Dylan’s aging voice, but his raspy snarl fits Tempest’s bleak themes perfectly. Life is cruel, and the proof’s in the singing.
Meanwhile, his touring band, with help from Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, pick funky grooves and stick with them for minutes at a time, almost playing back- ground music behind Dylan’s poetry.
Dylan’s received plenty of hype for the final two songs on the album. The title track is a 13:54 minute epic about the Titanic sinking played to a Pogues-y Irish beat, and Roll on John, an ode to his old pal John Lennon that, sadly, is not the greatest song here.
Dylan kicks off a fall tour with Mark Knopfler at the MTS Centre on Oct. 5.