Blonde on the Tracks
published: 6 /
Tiny Ghost Records
Beautifully performed and recorded album of Bob Dylan covers from Australian songwriter Emma Swift which provides mixed emotions
Reinterpreting the great man Bob Dylan is a huge risk. Many have tried, some have failed and some have succeeded. ‘The Byrds Sing Dylan’ is wonderful and Mary Lou’s Corvette ‘s version of ‘Blood on the Tracks’ is terrific.
Australian songstress Emma Swift, now based in Nashville, began singing Dylan during a “long depressive phase” in her life and the results are here for all to hear on this new release ‘Blonde on the Tracks’.
The finished album is smooth and pristine. Swift has engaged some top notch players to contribute and the results, to my ear, are just about as far away from the originals as you can get.
This, of course, could well be the intention and the opener ‘Queen Jane Approximately’ is pleasant enough, slightly engaging as you reattune your ears and memory of the originals to these new interpretations. From here on in the album plods along nicely at seemingly the same pace. Beautifully performed and recorded and Swift’s vocal performance is lovely. Perhaps here is the difficulty particularly for listeners who have lived with Dylan for a long time. I found myself asking “Where is the magic?” ‘Simple Twist of Fate’ is “nice” when actually the original transports you to another place. It is here where I find that making Dylan “clear and soft” and “balanced gentleness” somehow doesn’t work. ‘Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands’ has nothing going for it to my ear as it wanders along with no seeming sense of purpose unlike the original cry of longing.
Often, in conversation, someone might say “Dylan can’t sing” or “his voice grates” (This of course, could be true). Should this problem ever occur then this could well be the album to play for them. Great songs performed and played with skill and passion. What more can you say?
So, I am confused. I can not really fault Emma Swift ‘s album and yet I find myself “a man of contradictions” with divided loyalties.
Two things remain. Bob Dylan writes a great song and Emma Swift is a lovely singer.
Queen Jane Approximately
I Contain Multitudes
One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
Simple Twist Of Fate
Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands
The Man In Me
Going Going Gone
You're A Big Girl Now