BOB DYLAN: Duquesne Whistle

NEW YORK TIMES: Bob Dylan’s voice isn’t getting any prettier. At 71, on his 35th studio album, “Tempest” — and a full 50 years after he released his debut album in 1962 — Mr. Dylan sings in a wheezy rasp that proudly scrapes up against its own flaws. That voice can be almost avuncular, the wry cackle of a codger who still has an eye for the ladies. But it can also be calmly implacable or utterly bleak, and it’s completely believable when Mr. Dylan sings, in “Narrow Way,” “I’m armed to the hilt, and I’m struggling hard/You won’t get out of here unscarred.” The songs on “Tempest” are written for that voice alone — one that can switch from memory to prophecy, from joke to threat, and from romance to carnage within a line or two. Mr. Dylan’s previous studio album, “Together Through Life,” from 2009, kept a kindly twinkle through most of its songs, which Mr. Dylan wrote with the Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. “Tempest,” like that album, was produced by Mr. Dylan (billed as Jack Frost) and played with his road band, joined by David Hidalgo, from Los Lobos, on instruments including accordion and fiddle; it has one more Dylan-Hunter song, “Duquesne Whistle.” Like Mr. Dylan’s other 21st-century albums, “Tempest” feels live and rootsy, vamping along in the zone where blues, country and folk intersect. But 8 of the 10 songs on “Tempest” stretch past five minutes, turning into down-home incantations. The album starts with a deceptively genial whiff of yesteryear; the opening of “Duquesne Whistle” sounds like a western swing disc from the 1930s before it fills out to a more modern recording style, and its lyrics romanticize a train whistle, “blowin’ like my woman’s on board.” MORE