Critic Amanda Petrusich described him in the New Yorker as “feeling unusually in tune with the times” for a Dylan album. Two months after the release of the single teaser Murder Most Foul (if a 17-minute single counts as a teaser), words like “We will kill you with hatred / Without any respect / We will make fun of you and shock you / And we you will put it in front ”struck differently, she wrote. “Dylan has spent decades seeing and chronicling American injustice.”
Where Petrusich found political coherence, Pitchfork’s Sam Sodomsky located the novelty in Dylan’s emotional approach. “This is Dylan’s rare album that needs to be understood, that comes back to meet its audience,” he wrote. “In these songs, death is not a thick fog that hovers over all horizons; he is a man murdered before the eyes of the country, an event with a time, place and date. And love is not a Shakespearean riddle or a vigorous joke; it’s a delicate pact between two people, something you decide and dedicate yourself to. “
While some critics Dylan lament the quality of his voice of the last few days, at Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield described his song here as “a revelation”. He writes: “Dylan still blows up Howlin’ Wolf’s gruff grunt that he perfected on Tempest, but he seems much more loose and flexible, full of finesse. In crude blues scenes like Goodbye Jimmy Reed, False Prophet and Beyond the Rubicon, he is a master of impassive comic timing; in ballads like Key West (Philosopher Pirate), he is all calm and breathless. ”
While the reviews are published, the mysteries of the album are not yet resolved: as Petridis wrote, the task of taking off the lyrics will keep the dylanologists inside long after the lock has ended: the references to the village Irish from Ballinalee, Buster Keaton, Dickey Betts and the Tulsa massacre of 1921; Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac; maybe even Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River.
Now that the critics have had their moment and that Rough and Rowdy Ways is finally available for streaming, we want to know what you think. Post your opinions in the comments, or using the form below, and we will post the best on Tuesday.