Bob Dylan

There couldn't be a more fitting title to Bob Dylan's first album in five years, his 31st studio album, and 44th total. Modern Times, the name borrowed from one of his not oft-cited yet greatest influences, Charlie Chaplin, is the lyrical confession of a man whose twilight years are slowly creeping into consciousness. He responds to the encroaching hands of time with a wicked, almost curmudgeonly sense of humor, and the irreverent brash of a youthful Dylan; yet at once gestures to make peace. The album harks back to his early influences, sans Woody Guthrie. The light-footed bouncy opener, "Thunder on the Mountain," channels Chuck Berry, while Muddy Waters pays a hearty visit to "Rollin' and Tumblin'." Carl Perkins lends his spirit somewhere in there as well, as does Nina Simone. "Put some sugar in my bowl," reiterates Dylan on the ballad "Spirit on the Water." As a logical companion to its lead in, 2001's Love and Theft, Dylan's latest masterwork Modern Times, with its graceful infusion of blues, rockabilly, old country, poetry, and comedy, stands as both a testament and challenge to, well, modern times. It sounds oh so familiar, yet its something you've never heard before.