Rough and Rowdy Ways

Bob Dylan - Rough and Rowdy Ways
Critic Score
Based on 28 reviews
2020 Ratings: #8 / 685
User Score
Based on 527 ratings
2020 Ratings: #224
Liked by 33 people
June 19, 2020 / Release Date
LP / Format
Columbia / Label
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www.bobdylan.com / Website
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
The Telegraph
That he comes through loud and clear is a testament to his own production skills and his band’s delicate arrangements. Everything lifts Dylan’s ragged vocals, even as drums, bass and electric guitars cascade around him. The ambience is laid back, yet the sentiments are anything but. There are 10 songs, spanning 70 minutes, and not a moment is wasted.
100
The Guardian

For all its bleakness, Rough and Rowdy Ways might well be Bob Dylan’s most consistently brilliant set of songs in years: the die-hards can spend months unravelling the knottier lyrics, but you don’t need a PhD in Dylanology to appreciate its singular quality and power.

100
Mojo
It’s not merely the novelty of new Bob songs that offers comfort in this black swan moment, it’s a set of songs that provides inspiration when it’s in short supply. Call it a vaccine against culture’s shrinking expectations and the subsequent sapping of spirit. Or just call it great music.
100
The Arts Desk
Even after repeated and detailed listens, it feels endless and bottomless. What a piece of work. It’s bizarre, eccentric, unlike anything else he or anyone else has done. It ranks with the very best.
100
Exclaim!

Rough and Rowdy Ways is the work of a man in love with language and philosophy, and, at 79, he continues to take the pulse of the zeitgeist with unerring precision.

100
NME
On his first original album in eight years, the master explores religion and war, music and civil rights, pulling at threads to see what unravels
100
The Line of Best Fit

Rough and Rowdy Ways is a magical, threatening and ultimately challenging metaphysical exhibition of a writer’s limitless talent riding roughshod over convention.

100
Spectrum Culture

Rough and Rowdy Ways stands unimpeachably among the very best albums of Dylan’s six decade career.

100
Entertainment Weekly

More pertinently, Rough and Rowdy Ways is a clear reflection of America’s jagged landscape — one of romance and mystery, creativity and fortune, protestations and politicking, conquests and colonialism. It makes for an exquisite, haunting listen.

90
Rolling Stone

On Rough and Rowdy Ways, Dylan is exploring terrain nobody else has reached before—yet he just keeps pushing on into the future.

90
Clash

An artist haunted by the prospect of his passing while still facing down new challenges, Bob Dylan remains above all else a student of America.

90
Pitchfork
Six decades into his career, Bob Dylan delivers a gorgeous and meticulous record. It is the rare Dylan album that asks to be understood and comes down to meet its audience.
90
The Sydney Morning Herald

Rough and Rowdy Ways continues the gravity-defying trajectory of Dylan's work during the past two decades to be considered among the finest albums of the creative renaissance that began with 1997's Time Out of Mind.

90
Slant Magazine
The album encompasses the infinite potential for grace and disaster during the most turbulent of ages.
90
musicOMH
It is, quite simply, a staggeringly good record for an artist at this late stage of what has been a remarkable career, entirely made up of original compositions and worthy in its own way to stand alongside the masterpieces of its creator’s mid-’60s and mid-’70s halcyon periods.
90
No Ripcord

Rough and Rowdy Ways is the ambitious opus we didn't think he'd return to after close to a decade of elegantly phoning it in.

90
Uncut
He can still surprise us, this complicated man.
90
Classic Rock
His thirty-ninth album is a masterly late summation of his artistic vision.
80
The Independent
His first new material since 2012’s ‘Tempest’ is a soothing fit for the lockdown mood in which time and meaning feel strangely stretched and untethered.
80
AllMusic

Rough and Rowdy Ways is akin to transformational albums such as Love and Theft, and Slow Train Coming. It's a portrait of the artist in winter who remains vital and enigmatic. At nearly 80, Dylan's pen and guitar case still hold plenty of magic.

80
Albumism

The music is almost simple, mostly acoustic with thick blues stuffed in every wrinkle. Dylan doesn’t sing. It’s poetic delivery that plants every sentence firmly in the ground. Each will sprout, spreading new roots in the world of Dylan discovery as we break down his every breath and assign it meaning. Each song needs annotation.

80
The Observer

Over 10 tracks, he seeds Rough and Rowdy Ways with deep musical and lyrical erudition, witticisms and considerable panache.

80
PopMatters

If Rough and Rowdy Ways is his valedictory statement to us, it's certainly in keeping with his traditionalist spirit.

75
The Young Folks

Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, finds the aging Nobel Prize-winning singer-songwriter looking to the past and settling comfortably there both in terms of sound and subject matter.

70
FLOOD Magazine

You get a rugged-yet-elegant Dylan—once again reinvented.

67
Consequence of Sound
Dylan's powers persist but feel slightly squandered on this forgettable return to new material.
50
Gigwise
Pretty but redundant songwriting from an artist who no longer has his finger on the pulse.
50
The Needle Drop

If you're not already a fan of Bob Dylan's 21st century output, Rough and Rowdy Ways probably won't do much to change that.

Doublez
80
Rough and Rowdy Ways stands out very clearly, by its poetry and singularity from everything we hear at the moment. Bob Dylan has not only found the timing excellent, but on top of that he offers us a melancholy album of a power as fascinating as it is stunning.

There are thousands of things that could be told on this album. It's clear that Rough and Rowdy Ways in the image of its legendary creator is really against the current on many points, to the point of creating a generational fracture, ... read more
PipePanic
51
Bob Dylan says cock. 10/10.

So I have a little confession to make: I've never listened to Bob Dylan. Look, I know how 'influencial' and 'great' and 'godsent' he is, and how he's the only 'Bob' that matters and all that jazz. I get that. But A) there are a million artists I love that I still haven't done a deep dive on, and B) there is SO MUCH Bob Dylan material it gets hard on where exactly to start.

Because he's been going HARD since 1960, he has an overwhelming amount of material. And ... read more
WhatTheFunk
64
The last maelstrom flowers

How does it sound, a Bob Dylan ol' blues in the age of TikTok, Defund the Police and coronavirus? Against all odds, it sounds like the obvious, a flash of lucidity, a human scream across the sky. The American singer-songwriter, soon to be octogenarian, has nevertheless devoted a lot of his creative time these last few years to kicking around the poorly lit alleys of the past, looking for annals to write his Chronicles or a speech for the honours of the Nobel Academy, ... read more
Supertartory
90
Bob Dylan is a name that needs no introduction. We all know the infamous songwriter who has multiple masterpieces under his belt. He’s back after quite a long time without any new releases, it was almost a complete surprise to see him returning with a full length LP.
But is it good?

Well that’s what we’re here to find out is it not? Now I’m a huge fan of in-depth writing and uses of language to build a world around you in song, I’m sure most of you know this ... read more
MusicN
85
'"Don't criticise what you can't understand." - Bob Dylan
I fucking hate that quote. What does it even mean?!'
(Joke shamelessly stolen from Reddit)

Again, like my painful listen of the new Kodaline album, I'm feeling I may not be Dylan's target audience. However, this effort, compared to my current second least favourite AOTY, contains infinitely more interesting, wise lyrics backed with warm, familiar instrumentation.

I'm very much looking forward to future listens.
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Track List

  1. I Contain Multitudes
  2. False Prophet
  3. My Own Version of You
  4. I've Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You
  5. Black Rider
  6. Goodbye Jimmy Reed
  7. Mother of Muses
  8. Crossing the Rubicon
  9. Key West (Philosopher Pirate)
  10. Murder Most Foul
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Added on: May 8, 2020