Bob Dylan

Shadows in the Night (Columbia)

Phases & Stages

Bob Dylan

Shadows in the Night (Columbia)

Despite his late entry in the standards album game, Bob Dylan actually proposed such an endeavor 35 years ago in the wake of Willie Nelson's Stardust. Then-CBS Records president Walter Yetnikoff refused to pay for it. A questionable business decision, but one that probably saved Dylan's take on the so-called "saloon songs" of Frank Sinatra from the horrors of Eighties production. AARP tie-in aside, Shadows neatly sidesteps forced pastiche. Eschewing obvious orchestral or piano accompaniments, Dylan recorded these 10 songs live in the echoing environs of Capitol Studios with members of his touring band, including local guitar hero Charlie Sexton. Sparse but thoughtful arrangements alternately dominated by steel guitar and plaintive horns complement Dylan's characteristic vocal delivery in twilight. Between its wistful pulse and Donnie Herron's gorgeous pedal steel lead, "Full Moon and Empty Arms" nods to the confluence of country and Hawaiian music. Aside from Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Some Enchanted Evening," which can't help being undone by the ubiquity of both singer and song, there's not a dud in the bunch. The real treat in hearing Dylan rework tunes like "Autumn Leaves" is a slow-motion, humanistic view of how he finds the song's critical path. (Bob Dylan blesses Bass Concert Hall May 6)

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