While you wouldn't know it from reading most of the breathlessly gushing reviews of Bob Dylan's 35th studio album, Tempest, not all music critics think he's a god. Maybe it's a generational thing, but some of us think he's vastly overrated and can't get our heads around the idea of a supposed counterculture hero cheerfully doing a Pepsi ad with Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am (not to mention selling his tunes for bank commercials). With that disclaimer in mind, this is one of his best albums in many years, although that's not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Dylan is sounding particularly old-timey on Tempest, and Los Lobos' David Hidalgo helps get that grimy pre-rock 'n' roll vibe right. They're going for a lo-fi 1950s single-microphone recording sound, with the band distant and boxy and Dylan's voice front and centre. You could argue that no one really wants to hear his voice that clearly any more, but at least you get to hear his gory death-focused lyrics clearly, and that's supposed to be the point with him, right? And to be fair, he's sounding way less off-key than we've come to expect.
His fans will be relieved that they don't have to apologize too much for this album. The rest of us will be bewildered by the enduring adoration.
Top track: Duquesne Whistle