"I Feel A Change Comin' On", Dylan sings on the ninth track of his new album. Together Through Life certainly is a change for Dylan, but I don't think anyone really felt it comin' on. In His 33rd (33rd!) studio album, Dylan has an accordion on every track, and he co-wrote all the songs (except for "This Dream Of You") with Robert Hunter. Might seem like a bummer that it's not all Dylan right? Well, not really. I have to say, Together Through Life is a strong album from Bob, and it makes it a whole lot better that he has Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers playing guitar with him.
This is for sure one of his warmer albums, he seems relaxed, having fun, and it comes across as a 50's garage band jam in the end. Rockers such as "Beyond Here Lies Nothin" or slower sadder songs such as "Life Is Hard" are all on this album, and he even has a song ("I Feel A Change Comin' On") that gives me the impression of strolling down the block and like he did 45 years ago, freewheelin, even if the song isn't all that happy.
Many songs on here are laugh out loud funny, like in "I Feel A Change Comin On", the lyric is:
"I'm listenin' to Billy Joe Shaver, and I'm readin' James Joyce. Some people they tell me, I got the blood of the land in my voice."
In the closing rocker "It's All Good" the lyric is:
"Big politician telling lies;
Restaurant kitchen all full of flies.
Don't make a bit of difference; don't see why it should.
But it's alright, cause its all good.
Its all good.
Its all good."
And he knows pretty well that it's not "All Good," and that's exactly why he said it.
Many of the songs are just to show that Dylan's 68, and he can still rock like anyone could. Though his voice is frayed, and raspy, and he has the blood of the land in his voice, he manages to make it work.
In the slower song "Life Is Hard" he sings very slowly and very clear, repeating "Life is hard without you near me." Though the song is slow and sad, I can tell Dylan didn't write it for any reason, he just wrote it for the sake of having a slow sad song in here. That's basically what the whole album is about, nothing, just having fun and enjoying the rest of your life while you can.
One of the best songs guitar-wise on here however, is "Shake Shake Mama" probably the heaviest song on the whole album. Mike Campbell's guitar and licks really help. He sings:
"I get the blues for ya baby when I look up at the sun." What's that supposed to mean? In the chorus he says "Shake Shake Mama like a ship goin' out to sea." It's very interesting because of Campbell's great guitar.
Another song worth mentioning is "If You Ever Go To Houston" the fourth track. Like he's done in the past, he borrowed lyrics from some other place. In this case, he got the lyric "If you ever go to Houston, you better walk right" from the folk song "Midnight Special". He actually played harmonica on that song back in 1962.
So when you think about it, this is certainly one of his most unique albums, he's never made one anything like this. And like Uncut magazine said, the album's a gas, a riot, a hoot. And like Rolling Stone said, There is a grim magnetism coursing through these 10 new songs--and most of it is in Dylan's vividly battered singing. Like Blender said, Ever since he figured out how to write tough-buzzard songs, on his 1997 comeback Time Out of Mind, he’s been knocking them out of the park. This one leans hard on ready-made blues in the citified-country-ways style of Chess Records.
Overall the album is funny, fun, exciting, relaxing, freewheeling, nostalgic, consistent and strong.