Album review: Bob Dylan - Tempest

Another strong showing from the gargling septuagenarian storyteller.

The latest addition to the surprisingly vibrant canon comprising Dylan’s dotage, Tempest is a 10-song eye-opener.

But the epic title track – an almost funereally paced, wildly reinvented retelling of the Titanic disaster – is no typical example.

At nigh-on 14 minutes it packs in Cameron’s fictional Jack Dawson, murderous passengers and sinking-ship horror. A vivid picture; but the best of it could have been packed into half as much swaying country and slide guitar.

Dylan’s rasping vocals are revealing his age, too, particularly on foot-tapping opening gambit Duquesne Whistle where his voice scratches for the high note at the end of a line.

“I ain’t dead yet, my bell still rings,” he rattles more comfortably on Early Roman Kings, a fiery take on Muddy Waters’ Mannish Boy.

But despite low-power delivery he is lucid and his vignettes, lyricism and wit are still switchblade sharp.

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Perfect, then, for the murder ballads, lechery, envy, retribution and obsession populating this LP. Overall, it has to be said: Weather the storm, it’s worth it.

4 stars