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Bob Dylan, Love and Theft

Bob Dylan, “Love and Theft” (Columbia)

4 out of 5 stars

1997′s Time Out of Mind found Bob Dylan brooding on death at midnight; Love and Theft, his 43rd album, is much more lively, even joyful. It doesn’t really break any new ground, but that’s not the point. This record is about Dylan cutting loose and celebrating the richness of American music—Dylan swirls together a brew of folk, vaudeville show tunes, and most of all traditional 12-bar blues. Backing him up are a group of mostly Texan sidemen, including guitar whiz Charlie Sexton and longtime Doug Sahm collaborator and keyboardist Augie Meyers. It’s not entirely successful—the great lyricist indulges in a penchant for cornball jokes—but there’s enough of his inimitable spark to appeal both to Dylanophiles and the general public. Bob’s voice has aged into a potent blues machine, smoky, ragged and full of vinegar, and the loose, rolling “Lonesome Day Blues” is a real treat.

Originally published Sept. 14, 2001 on

Review: Grant Hart, Good News For Modern Man

Grant Hart, Good News For Modern ManGrant Hart, Good News For Modern Man (Pachyderm)
When I told a friend of mine I was reviewing the new Grant Hart record, she frowned sympathetically and said, “Oh, that’s too bad.” I told her, no, it’s a good thing, but I knew why she was so skeptical. Once, Hart was a living legend of punk rock, the co-genius behind HüDü of the most important bands to come out of our state. But while his ex-bandmate Bob Mould went on to alt-rock stardom, Hart spent the Nineties as a forgotten also-ran. He and his new group Nova Mob couldn’t catch a break, putting out a string of mediocre records amid shufflng labels, a bad bus crash and Hart’s ongoing heroin use, an addiction he now says is behind him. But “Good News” is good news indeed: This is Hart’s best album since the Dü. And it’s a success indubitably his own, since he plays and sings nearly everything himself—Indigenous’ Mato Nanji guests on “Seka Knows,” but that’s about it. I wouldn’t have guessed that the Beach Boys would be a prominent influence, but the spirit of Brian Wilson is all over this record, especially on “Run Run Run to the Centre Pompidou,” with its multi-layered choruses and innocent theme about trying to see as much of Paris as possible before the vacation’s over. “Nobody Rides for Free” mixes Dylanesque lyrics with a driving piano-and-organ arrangement, while “You Don’t Have To Tell Me Now” echoes “Hunky Dory”-era David Bowie. Hart’s expressive tenor and strong songwriting keep everything together. In short, an artifact full of gems from a guy I always knew had a great record in him but hadn’t thought I’d hear. 4 out of 5 stars?

Originally published on, exact date unknown but in 1999 or 2000.

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