Friday, December 6, 2019

Shadows in the Night

Release Date: February 3, 2015
Shadows in the Night would be the first of Bob Dylan's string of mid decade albums to in his words "uncover" songs forgotten by the culture. Full of smooth arrangements, Dylan brings a distinct mood, both romantic and resigned. There's a certain pose, a certain way of looking at the world that gives these records a staying power. Shadows in the Night immerses the listener in mid-century culture and sentiment.

"I'm a Fool to Want You" begins the record, a song about a complicated romantic entanglement. Dylan's also changed his vocal style, enunciating clearly yet subdued at the same time. "The Night We Called it A Day" sets a film noir tone of things coming apart late at night. The video accompanying the song drives home the film noir ambiance, but also adds violence that's only suggested on the surface. 

"Stay With Me" is a gentle pleading for support. Walking and searching and recurring motifs in Dylan's canon, and this song stands perfectly alongside those. He would often close his shows with "Stay With Me' in 2015. "Autumn Leaves" is another melancholy tune about loss and seasonal depression (the night drops so fast in December). "Why Try To Change Me Now?" asks his lover to accept him despite his eccentric habits, reminding her "I was always your clown."

"Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific is performed with a light touch. "Full Moon and Empty Arms" ruminates on loneliness tied again to the moon as a recurring symbol. Wishes and dreams, all these songs are tied to interior life. "Where Are You" recollects on lost love, sheepishly asking where's my happy ending? 

"What I'll Do" written by Irving Berlin phrases each verse as a question about living with heartbreak. The songs Dylan chose to record accept accept deep hurt as a part of life and never cheapens those feelings. "That Lucky Old Sun" ends the record on an appropriate note of redemption and the promise of inner peace.

In an interview from 2001, Dylan spoke of internal worlds and for people to survive they are going to have to have one. Shadows in the Night takes emotion at face value and to the listener open to them a subtle emotional journey. They are first and foremost about the human heart.

Dylan's band are also to be commended for providing excellent support for him on the record:

Tony Garnier: Bass
Donny Herron: Pedal, Steel Guitar
Charlie Sexton: Guitar
Stu Kimball: Guitar
George C. Receli: Percussion