Bob Dylan’s new album features glorified elevator music

Bob Dylan’s ‘Triplicate’ pretty much sucks. We all know you can do better, Bob. Photo courtesy Columbia Records.
Bob Dylan’s ‘Triplicate’ pretty much sucks. We all know you can do better, Bob. Photo courtesy Columbia Records.
By JONATHAN AGUIRRE
@TheEtCetera

I would say that Bob Dylan needs no introduction, but considering there was virtually no hype for his new album, he might.

When I heard that one of my all-time favorite artists was releasing a new album, I wondered how I only found out a few days before its March 31 release.

Dylan changed the course of music. He is one of the most important artists of the 20th century, not to mention he has a Nobel Prize in Literature for his lyrics. So why was no one talking about him?

It could be because this album, “Triplicate,” is composed of 30 tracks of nothing but covers.

There is no original material from the folk master himself.

And at an intimidating 95 minutes, it makes sitting down to listen a challenge.

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Dylan’s past few albums have not been anything worthwhile. This is not to say that absolutely nothing good could come from this project.

Last year, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen both had surprisingly incredible final albums, and both died a few days after their releases.

So when I heard Dylan had a new album, I was scared, and a tiny bit excited, that he would follow the trend of giving us one last great album and then leave us forever.

But that didn’t happen. “Triplicate” is mediocre lounge music. If you are in need of background music for a cocktail party, this is your album.

It does not belong in a metaphorical junkyard, but it certainly isn’t great.

The instrumentals are mostly laidback and pleasant. You won’t be repulsed by the music, but you won’t be impressed either.

Listening to this album is the equivalent of a parent saying, “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.”

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One good aspect is his voice. He actually sounds like himself and not Louie Armstrong like he did in “Tempest.”

For the man who wrote “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” this album sounds incredibly old.

Granted, all the songs covered were released between 1920 and 1960, but I would like to see him go in a more modern direction.

Perhaps he can’t.

Maybe at this point, Dylan is creatively exhausted. There are a lot  of great artists making better music than Dylan right now, such as Phil Elverum and Bon Iver.

Dylan has contributed more than his fair share of beautiful music, and I guess he deserves a break.

4 Comments

  1. Writing paragraphs is not only fun, it might make you seem more intelligent. You should try it sometime. Maybe there’s a community college in your area that offers some sort of remedial English course. By the way, Louis Armstrong disliked being called “Louie.” There are instruments on this album, but no instrumentals. “Laid back” is two words. You’re not actually getting paid to write this crap, are you? You have a promising future working at Walmart.

  2. Dear Jonathan,
    it´s just about take it or leave it.
    Let it be and have patience.
    In some years, when Dylan really has passed by we will be happy about this part of work.
    And if you look to the rythm of albums with own material you have to wait 5 or 6 years.
    So, drink another cup of coffee and lets see what comes along next year.

    Kind regards
    Marco Demel

  3. I understand your frustration that there are no new songs from Dylan at the moment, but I do find his reinterpretations of these classics to be excellent and beautiful, with tremendous nuance. Dylan has been a master of reinventing older music since the beginning of his career. I have a lot of interest in songs from this era as I grew up with Sinatra records, beloved by my Father. I think Bob does them justice and gives them fresh life, in ways that will stand the test of time. Hope you too find a way to enjoy this recent work!

  4. To my ears “Triplicate” has the strength, range and daring -do of other classic Dylan albums and I’ve been listening to Dylan closely for 50 years. Here the listening experience is in the emotive and imaginative singing and the classy textures of the musical backing. He makes the lyrics his own and delivers poetic readings of them. Let’s all enjoy him while we have him, accept the gifts he gives and not miss the slow train passing by with a giant on board.
    The Grand Canyon is always spectacular regardless of the weather; Bob Dylan is a national treasure no matter what angle one views him from. The best angle is one of gratitude

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