Something Like Sound

Archive for December, 2007

Album Review: I’m Not There

by on Dec.03, 2007, under Album Reviews

Musicians have been a popular subject for filmmakers through the years. During the last 40 years, Bob Dylan has been a staple of the American music scene. He accomplished this feat by writing and performing songs that have inspired modern musicians, poets, and film producers. The biographical movie I’m Not There has only seen limited release, but its soundtrack is already available nationwide. The two disc set is 34 tracks of Dylan’s music performed by some of the most popular folk and indie bands today.

Taking the album as a whole is a shifting experience as each performer takes Dylan’s songs and gives them a contemporary twist. However, Dylan’s distinct slurred vocal sound is emulated on quite a few of the tracks, this is especially evident on “Goin’ To Acapulco” played by Jim James. The alternative-rock rendition of “I’m Not There” by Sonic Youth stands as an interesting comparison to Richie Havens’s country style cover of “Tombstone Blues.” Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley sounds like a young Joan Baez on “Fourth Time Around,” leading into Iron & Wine’s experimental rendition of “Dark Eyes.” Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who cites the likes of Bob Dylan and Neil Young as his influences, also makes an appearance on the first disc with “Simple Twist of Fate.” Closing the first half of the album is Willie Nelson, with his soulful country version of “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power).”

Sufjan Stevens’s folk-orchestral style and soft voice are the overarching forces behind “Ring Them Bells,” providing an interesting comparison to Jack Johnson’s stripped down “Mama You’ve Been On My Mind.” Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, of Once fame, make an appearance with “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” which also happens to be one of the few songs featuring extensive harmonica parts, an integral part of Dylan’s style. The entire album ends with Bob Dylan himself singing the title track “I’m Not There,” providing perspective on the entire compilation.
The soundtrack to I’m Not There reminds listeners why Bob Dylan has been popular for so long. His lyrics are original, even sometimes odd. His sound is distinct and his style has been emulated by scores of musicians through the years.

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