The final installment in Bob Dylan's "renaissance" trilogy of albums that started with 1997's Time Out of Mind and continued with 2001's Love and Theft sees Bob following the dictum of another famous Dylan, and most definitely not going gentle into that good night.
Unlike contemporaries like Johnny Cash, Dylan's later-years albums find him doing anything but reflecting wistfully on mortality and nostalgia, instead it's as if he has had a - lyrical, at least - second wind, singing about Alicia Keys and of charming pillowtalk, complaining about women who have "charmed away his brains". So pretty much business as usual then, you might think, but if you're inclined to write off artists that are considered past their peak recording years then you'd be missing out on some of Dylan's finest material – recorded with his current touring band, who he has primed to turn on a dime and obey orders like the most well-oiled of Mariachi groups, so the material is tight as well as endlessly interesting.
Produced (as was Love and Theft) by Dylan himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost, these new recordings eschew certain trappings of modern recordings, choosing instead to borrow techniques from traditional blues and jazz production while dealing with contemporary details lyrically instead. Backwards-looking in form, wandering through roadhouse blues, rockabilly and electric folk, and romantic and just plain cool in content, Modern Times sits as easily on the modern record shelf as it does beside Dylan's impressive back catalogue. Highly recommended.