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

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