Sound — 8
Dylan's new album sounds like he's having fun, goofing around with his mates, on the stage in a Mexican border cafe. The music isn't the most original, but the sound is fresh and different from the rest of his albums; with a horn section on Beyond here lies nothing, and David Hidalgos' accordeon on every track. The Heartbreaker's Mike Campbell plays guitar, and the rest of the band consists of the core of Dylan's live band: George Recile on drums, Tony Garnier on bass and Donnie Herron on steel guitar, mandolin and trumpet. Dylan plays guitar and keybords, so no harmonica on this album.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are more simplistic and straightforward than his last albums (Modern Times and Love and Theft), and written together (except for This dream of you, which Bob wrote alone) with Robert Hunter. The theme of the album is simple: love, and women, in all their forms: 01.Beyond Here Lies Nothing: the music is a note-for-note copy of Otis Rush' All your love (made famous by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers), and the horns and latin feel also made me think of BB Kings last album, that opens with a rumba arrangement of See that my grave is kept clean. It's a song about how you need nothing more in life, when you can be with the one you love. 02.Life Is Hard: a ballad about how hard it is to live without the one you love, played in a beautifully sparse arrangement. 03.My Wife's Hometown: the music is taken from Muddy Water's I just want to make love to you (it's credited as "Bob Dylan/Willie Dixon"), but Bob sings about living with a bad woman. This song captures the jam-like atmosphere of the album the best, and it seems as if Dylan invents the lyrics on the spot! The laugh during the fade is also awesome... 04.If You Ever Go To Houston: a song about a lost love. It has a Western feel to it, and it's the most story-telling song of the album. This could be great live, with Bob's organ playing the accordion part (I heard him do similar licks in Brussel, this week)! 05.Forgetfull Heart: about the good times of a love that once was, but there's no way to go back: "The door is closed for evermore / If indeed there ever was a door" One of my favourites on the album. 06.Jolene: No Dolly Parton cover, but a blues shuffle, which doesn't do much for me. It seems too much of a filler. 07.This Dream Of You: Dylan sit's in the saloon (a poor lonesome cowboy indeed! ), thinking about his lady. You can just see him sitting there, drinking like a madman! 08.Shake Shake Mama: a fast blues, about the thing all blues songs are about: lust! 09.I Feel A Change Comin' On: I expected a political song, from the title, but it's more a song about trying to impress a lady: with his education and culturedness, with his fame, playing the poor guy, but in the end just begging: there's still a chance, if we're fast enough. 10.It's All Good: The only non-love song of the album, and one of the strongest! A rocker, that has Dylan ranting about all politics and economics going bad, and the indifference of all people: nobody worries, " 'cause it's all good".
Overall Impression — 7
My favourite songs on Together through life are Life is hard, My wife's hometown, Forgetfull heart and It's all good. Dylan's latest isn't as strong lyrically as his last two albums, and his voice isn't as clear and articulate too, but this only adds to the relaxed, jamming feel! It's a perfect album for a long summer, sitting and drinking in the evening sun.