Bob Dylan’s latest, Fallen Angels, is to be officially released on May 20th (four days ahead of Mr. Dylan’s 75th birthday). But you can listen to whole thing now via a streaming broadcast from NPR, embedded below, beginning with Bob’s take on the classic “Young at Heart.”
The album follows Dylan’s truly remarkable Sinatra-inspired record from last year, Shadows in the Night. Each tune on that album was one previously recorded by Frank Sinatra, and Dylan and his band seemed to be consciously trying to recreate one of the classic arrangements Sinatra used on each one, albeit while coloring with the palette of a five-piece guitar-based band in place of the original significant-sized orchestras. The result was jaw-dropping, and Dylan’s singing was as good or better as any of his career, wringing every kind of sensitive nuance out of the lyrics and his aged vocal instrument, and transforming old songs of romantic love and loss into veritable hymns (although at least one was already a hymn).
While Fallen Angels continues some of the Sinatra theme (“Melancholy Mood” is the arrangement that Harry James put behind Frank in 1939), there are also other things going on. For example, one of the tracks, “Skylark,” was never recorded by Sinatra. And though “That Old Black Magic” was recorded by Frank, Dylan copies an arrangement used by Louis Prima and Keely Smith in 1958 (and also oddly enough in 1995 by Van Morrison and his daughter Shana).
All such trivia aside, what’s clear on first listen to the whole of Fallen Angels is that it is again a rather amazing and very beautiful record. Bob Dylan has found a way to continue to surprise and to create deeply worthwhile work into his old age, and that’s something to inspire gratitude indeed.
The full track list of Bob Dylan’s Fallen Angels is:
1. Young At Heart
2. Maybe You’ll Be There
3. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
4. All The Way
7. All Or Nothing At All
8. On A Little Street In Singapore
9. It Had To Be You
10. Melancholy Mood
11. That Old Black Magic
12. Come Rain Or Come Shine