The resurrection of Bob Dylan, which began with 1997's "Time Out of Mind," continues with the equally masterful "Modern Times." In true Dylanesque fashion, the album's title is a bit ironic; its sonicscape of blues, rockabilly and country waltzes isn't exactly contemporary, but it is timeless.
Sounding raspier than ever, the 65"?year"?old Mr. Zimmerman chews over some mighty lofty subjects' God, love, death' but his precise songwriting and shambling melodies keep the songs firmly earthbound. "Workingman's Blues #2" and "Nettie Moore" are brilliant meditations from rock's greatest poet, while the hushed vibe of "Spirit on the Water" belies a love song steeped in obsession, masochism and betrayal.
"In the earthly domain, full of disappointment and pain/You'll never see me frown," Dylan croons in the elegiac "When the Deal Goes Down." Thankfully, however, such pain and disappointment still inspires some incredible, and moving, music.
- Phil Bacharach