Love and Theft
The Music Box's #1 album for 2001
First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2002, Volume 9, #1
Written by John Metzger
It is truly amazing that after such a storied career, Bob Dylan can still make a masterpiece. After all, Love and Theft is his 43rd album, and most artists seem to run out of ideas midway through their debut. That's not to say that Dylan hasn't hit a few dry periods in his lengthy career, but lately he is writing and releasing material as good as anything that's come before it.
Dylan's latest album Love and Theft forsakes much of the thick, suffocating arrangements reminiscent of his collaborations with Daniel Lanois. It also shies away from the quiet ruminations on mortality that permeated his last release Time Out of Mind. Indeed, the freewheeling Bob Dylan has returned with a vengeance, and he turns his road-tested band loose on twelve new blues-based compositions. The result is a wondrous set that sounds as unfettered as his projects with The Band and nearly as vital as the music he first posed to the world on Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde.
Right from the start, Dylan explodes with the driving rhythm of Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum -- a gripping fusion of driving Bo Diddley percussion and rousing roadhouse guitar textured with psychedelic bursts of organ (courtesy of the Sir Douglas Quintet's Augie Meyers). And what follows is equally brilliant. Dylan has long been been mining the blues, and here he spins the genre in every direction humanly possible. He glides through a rolling country ballad (Mississippi), rips through territory that bridges Chuck Berry and Van Morrison (Summer Days), settles into breezy, laid-back grooves (Bye and Bye, Moonlight), and wanders through a bit of hillbilly bluegrass (High Water). All the while, Dylan pays tribute to the music he loves while stealing what he needs to write a new chapter in his monumental legacy -- hence the title Love and Theft. Though any of these songs easily could have been written well before the '50s drew to a close, Dylan invests them with such urgency that he makes them sound incredibly relevant today. Better still, he sounds like he's having the time of his life. As a result, the blues have never been more fun than this.
44th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Contemporary Folk Album
Love and Theft is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box