Record Release Tuesday: New Dylan!

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"I'm listening to Billy Joe Shaver/I'm reading James Joyce/Some people think I have the blood of the lamb in my voice," Bob Dylan wheezes on "I Feel a Change Comin' On," the penultimate track on his new album, Together Through Life, which hit record stores today. It's a pretty good self-portrait of a Great American Artist who, in the past decade, has rediscovered the freedom to ignore his unique stature and have fun with his music again.

I meant to post this at the beginning of the day, but production on this week's paper (see the mammoth $5 Cover cover story, on the street tomorrow) and various "breaking" "news" distractions prevented that. I just got the record yesterday and am still working my way through it, but I've responded to Together Through Life quicker than I did Dylan's last record, 2006's Modern Times.

Like Modern Times and his 2001 masterpiece "Love & Theft", Together Through Life has a ragged, playful spirit and a diverse, organic palette of roots styles — with some terrific accompaniment from Los Lobos' David Hidalgo on accordion and guitar. But it's lighter, more love-song oriented. And it's funny. (The last song, incidentally, might be an accidental theme song for local used-car impresario Mark Goodfellow.)

I'll have more to say about Together Through Life — after another dozen or so spins — in a future Listening Log.

Also released today is Stax: The Soul of Hip-Hop, a compilation of semi-obscure Stax cuts sampled on generally more familiar hip-hop songs. You can read my previous review here.

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