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Sound Check

2/4/2015

Bob DylanBob Dylan

“Shadows in the Night”

Columbia

 

Bob Dylan must be getting bored with just being a legend. Seemingly bereft of any good, new ideas, Dylan has chosen to package together a series of Frank Sinatra covers for his latest album. Consisting mostly of deeper cuts from Ol’ Blue Eyes’ catalog, the result is a disjointed, weird-sounding album that never takes off. Dylan’s trademark wail is altered almost beyond recognition here, as the 73-year-old tries his hand at some old school crooning — to mixed results. “Full Moon and Empty Arms” sounds good, and “Autumn Leaves” is vulnerable and raw, but for the most part the album is just a curious decision in general. When you have gotten to the level that Dylan has, you do not have to explain yourself to anyone, least of all me. But this just feels like a pet project that was knocked out in spare moments for the edification of no one.

HIV

 

Diana KrallDiana Krall

“Wallflower”

Verve

 

Another collection of covers sees Diana Krall abandon her jazzier roots to offer her take on rock and pop songs from the 1960s and ’70s. Dylan’s work makes an appearance (the title track), as do The Mamas and the Papas, Elton John and The Eagles. Much like the man mentioned above, Krall takes absolutely no chances here. The songs are all well known, and she does not do a lot to make them her own. Even more frustratingly, all the responsibility for arrangement and instrumentation goes to her producer, David Foster, who proceeds to make a heavy, string-laden mess out of everything. If the album had put the focus on Krall’s voice and piano, it might have been salvageable. But, as it is, it just sounds confusing.

 

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