Bryan Ferry 

Dylanesque

Dylanesque is a project 34 years in the making, going all the way back to Bryan Ferry's 1973 cover of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," released just as his glam band, Roxy Music, was starting to take off. But Ferry's weathered, weary, ironic and even vulnerable voice is much better suited now than then to take on Dylan's verse. Artists who pursue tribute albums must walk a precarious tightrope between reverence and originality. Ferry nails it on the head, making these versions (recorded with his touring band) feel so effortless you'd guess he'd written them himself. So there are no worries here about any portentous, sweeping or melodramatic moments. The songs flow by sweetly, almost briskly, but not so much that Dylan's timeless poetry loses any of its power. The midtempo approach to "Knocking on Heaven's Door" is almost a thumbing of the nose to Guns N' Roses' version, countering Axl Rose's caterwauling with a casual lament. "Simple Twist of Fate" clocks in at 5:12 but feels half as long; everything is spare and mildly electric, with Ferry putting a hint of strain in his voice without slowing anything down. The magic of Dylan's lyricism, or at least part of it, is its worldly prescience. The songs might not have been written by a 60-year-old, but they're being sung by one here – with all the wisdom required. 4 stars

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