Random Access Memories
Well, it is certainly no Blood On The Tracks.
Fifty years into his iconic career, Tempest is Bob Dylan's studio 35th album. In years to come, as his phenomenal legacy is established, it is unlikely to be seen as a seminal release.
Now 71 years old and never off the road, Dylan becomes ever more grizzled and eccentric. Not only are his lyrics increasingly gnomic and cryptic, but his wizened drawl of a vocal renders them impenetrable: howling at the moon on Scarlet Town, he sounds like a dosser you'd cross the road to avoid.
His group lollop along behind him like a bar room blues band, an easy vehicle for his scabrous anti-bankers rage on Early Roman Kings and for his sentimental (and belated) John Lennon tribute, Roll On John. And when Bob tells his "heavy stacked woman" on Narrow Way that he intends to "take my head and bury it between her breasts", it's hard not to feel mildly queasy.
He goes on a bit, and Dylan non-acolytes may lose the will to live during the album's 14-minute title track - a plodding account of the sinking of the Titanic. Ultimately, it's still a thrill to hear such a legendary figure, this late in the game: but Tempest is a storm in a teacup.