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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Dylan album praised by US critics
Bob Dylan
USA Today praised Dylan for his "pointed political commentary"
Bob Dylan's first studio album in almost five years has been hailed as a "masterwork", "enchanting" and "full of prophecy" by impressed US critics.

"This music is relaxed; it has nothing to prove," Rolling Stone magazine said of the 10 songs on Modern Times.

Within "about 30 seconds", listeners would discover they were "in the presence of greatness", said USA Today, which praised Dylan's wit and imagery.

"Nobody can stop him, and the world is better for it," Blender magazine added.

It claimed Modern Times was the third part of a "simultaneously startling and backward-looking series", referring to Dylan's earlier albums Time Out of Mind, from 1997, and Love and Theft, released five years ago.

Dylan just glances at current events and that's all it takes for him to conjure up the dread of the age
Tom Moon, National Public Radio

Rolling Stone agreed, describing the release as Dylan's "third straight masterwork".

The publication awarded five stars to the album, saying it was "evenly divided between blues ready-mades, old-timey two-steps and stately marches full of prophecy".

The album "recalls the kind of music working bands would cut on the fly between gigs", it said, "a mixture of unique inventions and variations on hand-me-downs touched by the leader's genius".

Dylan, 65, had "captured the sound of tradition as an ever-present, a sound he's been working on since his first album, in 1962", Rolling Stone said.

He also described the state of the world since the terrorist attacks on the US of 11 September 2001 "in a sly fox sort of way", said Tom Moon of National Public Radio.

"Dylan just glances at current events and that's all it takes for him to conjure up the dread of the age", Mr Moon added.

Bob Dylan
Dylan released his first album in 1962
"His songs catch the curious blend of unwavering faith and formless fear that distinguishes the present moment."

Steve Jones of USA Today added that he had heard some of Dylan's "most direct love lyrics, vindictive vendettas, meditations on mortality, pointed political commentary, dry wit, apocalyptic imagery and head-scratching flights of fancy".

Sometimes these were all in the same song, he wrote.

And Billboard magazine said as well as being "enchanting", Modern Times was "rife with homespun reflections on philosophy, religion and the never-ending quest for love".

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