STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 159965-23645 LABEL: Columbia 88875057962 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
I have to admit that when I first heard that the folk rock bard had recorded an album of Frank Sinatra covers I was flabbergasted. Why, I asked myself, would one of the great songwriters - one whose voice is barely adequate and undeniably an acquired taste, turn his attention to Tin Pan Alley's Great American Songbook? Now we know that in recent years Dylan has demonstrated that he is a musical eclectic with unexpected tastes for all eras and styles of music, but there's a big difference between enjoying old standards and singing them. So here we have Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do" and Rogers & Hammerstein's "Some Enchanted Evening" performed by Dylan with his current touring band and produced by Mr Tambourine Man himself. 'Shadows In The Night' admittedly features some interesting arrangements with bowed double bass and lots of pedal steel which at least avoids cod big band arrangements once favoured by Paul McCartney and Robbie Williams when they turned to the songs of Ol' Blue Eyes. The Guardian has suggested that 'Shadows In The Night' "fits perfectly with what you might call Dylan's latter day persona - the grizzled old geezer unveiled on 1997's 'Time Out Of Mind', either sentimental or growling at the world to get off his lawn." In fact there is none of the rugged bluesiness or glimpses of authoritative spirituality which emerged in many of Dylan's later albums. Now, I'll agree that many of the songs from the Great American Songbook are. great. And there is something rather fascinating seeing whether Mr Zimmerman can actually hit all the notes of "Autumn Leaves" or "Full Moon And Empty Arms". But the suggestion of another enthusiastic reviewer that Dylan's "deep, shockingly clear voice sounds like rebirth in itself" is most peculiar. In fact Dylan never gets close to capturing the world-weary pathos of Sinatra's best work while the opener "I'm A Fool To Want You" - the only song here which shows Sinatra as a co-composer - only works if you've never heard the spine-tingling version once recorded by Ketty Lester.
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