David Bianco; Rich Tosi; David Spreng; David Bianco; Rafael Serrano; Bill Lane
Number of Discs
45m : 27s
Album Notes and Credits
Lyricists: Robert Hunter; Bob Dylan.
Personnel: Bob Dylan (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Mike Campbell (guitar, mandolin); David Hidalgo (guitar, accordion); Donny Herron (steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, trumpet); Tony Garnier (upright bass); George Recile (drums).
Audio Mixer: David Bianco.
Photographers: Josef Koudelka; Danny Clinch.
After two decades of outsourcing the producing and arranging of his records to everyone from Mark Knopfler to Daniel Lanois, Bob Dylan stopped phoning it in in the '00s and began directly shaping their sound and feel. As producer of TOGETHER THROUGH LIFE, he elevates the near-cliche material with a beautifully crafted latticework of breathy border-town accordion and smoky guitar riffs (courtesy of Los Lobos's David Hidalgo and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell respectively), steel guitar, mandolin, and brushed drums. Initially intended as a soundtrack of an Olivier Drahan movie, the album finds a pleasantly off-hand bard building on the wistful romanticism of recent ballads (like MODERN TIMES's "Beyond the Horizon") with a cycle of songs (nine of them co-written with legendary Dead lyricist Robert Hunter) about dreaming, hoping, and good love. Indeed, the change in "I Feel A Change Comin' On" is not of the apocalyptic hard rain variety, but portends a potential tryst as Dylan chimes "life is for love" with uncharacteristic sweetness. Via languid slow burns ("Forgetful Heart"), sensual grooves ("If You Ever Go To Houston"), and loping blues walkarounds ("Jolene"), TOGETHER THROUGH LIFE plays like a great date night in a Texas dancehall--perfect for lovers tired of talking, who just want to grab hold and sway.
Spin (p.88) - "TOGETHER THROUGH LIFE resides in that sepia-toned world; the biggest flourish is the omnipresent accordion, courtesy of Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, which only adds to the air of dusty antiquity."
Q (Magazine) (p.116) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[I]ts musical touchstone is his radio programme, 'Theme Time Radio Hour.' As on the show, here he's reconnecting with the uncluttered blues-based music he grew up with, the music he loves."
Blender (Magazine) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[A] strikingly simple -- and strikingly excellent new album....He revels in how banged-up and gruff his voice is with a lifetime of road dust corroding his lungs."
Paste (magazine) - "[The album] finds him plowing the same American furrow he's been working for the past 12 years, but with a distinct border-town edge suited to the record's reflective, riotous and emotionally rugged turns."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.83) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Rather than the sophisticated country-jazz of MODERN TIMES, here's a raw rock'n'roll cacophany with a Cajun twist, Los Lobos' David Higaldo driving virtually every song with his accordion."
Uncut (magazine) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "The lyrics allude frequently to sinking suns, chilly winds, eternal loneliness, twilight reveries, final voyages to unspecified destinations, the seeping away of the day's last light."
Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
Life Is Hard
My Wife's Home Town
If You Ever Go To Houston
This Dream Of You
Shake Shake Mama
I Feel A Change Comin' On
It's All Good
The New Yorker
Bob Dylan has given an interview about his forthcoming album, Together Through Life, and, in a typically playful, oblique way, he addresses questions of periodization and musical meaning: "Some people preferred my first-period songs. Some, the second. Some, the Christian period. Some, the post-Columbian. Some, the Pre-Raphaelite. Some people prefer my songs from the nineties. I see that my audience now doesn't particularly care what period the songs are from. They feel style and substance in a more visceral way and let it go at that. Images don't hang anybody up. Like if there's an astrologer with a criminal record in one of my songs it's not going to make anybody wonder if the human race is doomed... If there are shadows and flowers and swampy ledges in a composition, that's what they are in their essence. There's no mystification. That's one way I can explain it."...I'm reluctant to say much after a single audition, but to my ears it was no letdown after Dylan's recent trilogy of new material -- Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Modern Times...The version I heard ended with the double whammy of "I Feel a Change Coming On" and "It's All Good" -- a pair that may cause listeners to detect a political undertow in this seemingly intimate, out-of-time affair. The chorus of the gorgeously lilting, almost Motown-like "I Feel a Change" could be heard as Obamaesque...On the grimly boogeying "It's All Good," the singer dons a mask of lethal irony, surveying a ransacked social landscape and then adding, after each exhibition of desperation and decay, "It's all good." That smug little phrase has now been destroyed. Dylan's protestations in the latest interview notwithstanding, some people may indeed come away thinking that the human race is doomed, although at least we go out with a crooked smile.
Allan Jones, Uncut
...there's a ragged edge to things that wasn't apparent on Modern Times, a rawness - emotional and musical - that separates it from that album...
Michael Simmons, Mojo
...a powerful personal work by a man who still thinks for himself...That it rocks mightily makes the message even more compelling.