On first hearing, though, Tempest seemed to find Dylan on unquestionably formidable form. Its ten tracks run over a total playing time of around 75 minutes, the title track alone taking up a fair chunk of that, with verse following verse in a manner that might remind you of “Desolation Row.”
There was a lot, therefore, to take in on a single encounter, especially with note-taking discouraged. There was no track listing forthcoming, either, not that this matters at the moment since I am obliged to not go into premature detail ahead of the album’s September 10 release.
I think I can say without punitive consequences, though, that if you’re trying to imagine what Tempest sounds like you may want to think less perhaps of the rambunctious roadhouse blues that was central to most of Together Through Life and parts of Modern Times, although this is a recent signature sound that hasn’t been entirely abandoned.
Neither are there too many of the jazzy riverboat shuffles of “Love And Theft” in evidence here as much as there are echoes of a folk tradition that was manifest on, say, “High Water (For Charley Patton)” and also “Nettie Moore,” from Modern Times. You may also want to keep in mind as a point of reference “Mississippi” from “Love And Theft” and something like “Red River Shore,” recorded for Time Out Of Mind, but not released until 2009, when it appeared on the Tell Tale Signs three-CD set, where also lurked “’Cross The Green Mountain,” the epic civil war song Dylan wrote for the soundtrack to the 2003 film, Gods And Generals. Hardly anyone heard it when it originally came out, but it came several times to mind as Tempest unspooled spectacularly a few weeks ago, concluding with a song that will probably be much-talked about, although not here, right now.
High Water and Nettie Moore are top plays on my classic iPod, so that is good to hear referenced in this super-early "review." High Water in particular was a favorite must-play during the rather memorable 2006 ("They got Charles Darwin trapped out there on Highway 5.").
Since this is all we have for now, here is High Water from Love And Theft, by Bob Dylan, still timely: