Bob Dylan - Shadows In The Night
by Shannon Smith
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you wish to maintain sanity, avoid this album at all costs.
I know last year I made some bold claims about La Roux’s album having the ability to be used as a very successful torture technique. To Bob Dylan’s credit, he has topped even that. Not that it is a good thing, mind you. The over-indulgence, the lacklustre repetition, and the dreary tone all add up to an album which could be used to get detainees to admit to crimes by the end of track one. I was not expecting an uplifting album, but this? I know what you are all thinking: aren’t you being rather harsh, Shannon? Maybe this was an album he needed to make? Whilst this may be an album he needed to make – with all his collective wealth he did not need to unleash this onto the world. Yet he did. He is no humanitarian.
Lyrically, the album is commendable, as you would expect / hope from Bob Dylan. That is the extent of praise I can give to Shadows In The Night. Now Dylan has taken those heartfelt lyrics – and strangled, abused, and exploited any potential musical genius they once possessed. Imagine Dylan metaphorically stabbing them with a blunt, crusty, and rusting knife, repeatedly hacking at them. Kind of like what happens to poor, loyal Angel Face in Fight Club… That is Shadows In The Night for you.
The album begins with I’m A Fool To Want You – a depressive start, I thought upon my first listen. Maybe it will get better, I hoped. The slow backing track, along with Dylan’s rough growl, makes for a rather torched picture; images of an old drunk stumbling through the streets, screaming about someone who dumped them twenty years ago sprung to mind. Even Evanescence would tell Dylan he needs to cheer up a bit. I did remain hopeful (foolishly) – I know folk music, and I know it can certainly get better than this. But it did not. It got worse. And worse.
Maybe I am missing the point. Maybe Bob wants us to impress this melancholy state onto us, and we should sit alone in the dark, smoking, and crying about life. But the backing music genuinely never changes. From tracks one through ten, I honestly could not tell when the track changed. That same, repetitive, mellow, monotonous tune. Why should I review the rest of the album if Dylan cannot be bothered to change the tune? That might be a little stubborn, so I will give a quick run through.
1. The Night We Called It A Day: Boring. 2. Stay With Me: If Bob sang this at me, I would turn into Usain Bolt and leg it. 3. Autumn Leaves: The weekend of reviewing this I went home, so my family were also subjected to Bob (I am so sorry.) My Mum actually asked me to turn it off at this point. I think that says it all. 4. Why Try To Change Me Now: You are not kidding are you, Bob?! 5. Some Enchanted Evening: Disenchanting. Disillusioning. Disheartening. 6. Full Moon And Empty Arms: I really want the album to finish now. 7. Where Are You?: I really, really want the album to finish now. 8. What’ll I Do: I really, really, really want the album to finish now. Please Bob, please. I am begging you. 9. That Lucky Old Sun: Thank God it is over.
I have some solutions to rectify the damage Bob Dylan has caused us. Maybe we can put on a version of Live Aid and raise money for all those affected by Shadows Of The Night. Or we could start a change.org online petition to get this removed from sale, so no more have to deal with the emotional trauma. Or possibly a kick starter campaign to buy all the albums in one go, so that no one else has to be subjected to it. I’m not fussed.