Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 12

This is one of those Album Review Saturdays to remember!  One a return to some classic folk from the master singer-songwriter, Mr. Bob Dylan, that puts a studio spin on his live delivery!  Then we move into Canada to see how it is the Cowboy Junkies know that ‘Hell Is Real,’ and I (wow) believe them!  Finally, we enter a barren, strikingly electric, desert rock-fusion wasteland that might very well be the album of the year, from a band that’s been wandering the Sahara and the music-multiverse for nearly two decades!  Statements made by all three are to be reckoned with no matter past, present or future!  All I can say, is I wouldn’t hesitate to get these three albums onto your playlist, but be warned — they demand wondrous audio attention!

Bob Dylan – Shadow Kingdom

When I sit down to a Dylan record I take notice of the track listing first, and while I had nearly his entire catalog, the songs didn’t jump out at me (and also of note I have never seen him live, which is criminal considering how much I do love him as a singer-songwriter). This album is certain a dynamic soloist, minimalist triumph, which he has done many times before. This one, however, has a special note for me, as I believe his vocal is the best I have heard (or remember hearing). The vocal control and less nasal delivery leaves me breathless against the songs that I am familiar with, but now more so intimately.  This makes me believe that my thought against seeing him on tour for fear of being lulled instead of delivered to was completely inaccurate and unfortunate choice.  From the perfect place to start, a song about painting your masterpiece to the finale, one of the greatest song writers of our time gives us — again — the true art of solo.  For old Dylan fans this should feel like vindication and appreciation for how he delicately handles these songs, adding + subtracting both music pallet and lyrics, as well as how he vocally challenges himself to sing instead of speak it, making it all the more monumental and emotional.

Only one selfish regret, as I’m a sucker for the long tracks — there was no Highway 61, no Murder Most Foul.  He steers clear of the epics, and give this an album feel that’s very concise and connected song to song.  This is a worthy listen, and another reason why he can continue gaining attention from generation after generation!

The Band
  • Bob Dylan – vocal, guitar, harmonica
  • Jeff Taylor – accordion
  • Greg Leisz – guitar, pedal steel guitar, mandolin
  • Tim Pierce – guitar
  • T-Bone Burnett – guitar
  • Ira Ingber – guitar
  • Don Was – upright bass
  • John Avila – electric bass
  • Doug Lacy – accordion
  • Steve Bartek – additional acoustic guitar
Shadow Kingdom Track Listing:
1. “When I Paint My Masterpiece”
2. “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine”
3. “Queen Jane Approximately”
4. “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”
5. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
6. “Tombstone Blues”
7. “To Be Alone with You”
8. “What Was It You Wanted”
9. “Forever Young”
10. “Pledging My Time”
11. “The Wicked Messenger”
12. “Watching the River Flow”
13. “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”

14. “Sierra’s Theme”


Cowboy Junkies – Such Ferocious Beauty

What a great title!  They had me the minute I saw the new title.  You kind of have an audio inkling if you will, that we’re going into dense songwriting territory of a uber-experienced, soft augmented, alternative blues  band wrapped in the treasured, hypnotic possessive vocal of a troubled, tempted, playful angel.  The Cowboy Junkies have a band that knows how to bend a sound, elaborate ambient background, tip the scales of melody and melancholy.  Margo Timmins is a powerhouse in low-fi delivery that’s surprisingly beguiling, sneaking up on you from all corner of you ears and mind, which is by grand design by Michael Timmins and Peter Timmins.  I’m still reeling over the songs ‘What I Lost’ and ‘Hell Is Real.”  And despite the pause that’s odd on the final track, which is probably purposeful, this is as flawless a record as can be made this intimate in all aspects of tone and arrangement.  Call it the most sophisticated adult contemporary on the planet rooted in a swagger that is unique only to this band!  Call it an album that is going to continue to linger in our ears and challenge us for that question, “What is the best Cowboy Junkies’ album?” — could very well be…!

The Band
  • Margo Timmins- vocals
  • Michael Timmins – guitars
  • Peter Timmins – drums, percussion
  • Alan Anton – bass

Such Ferocio Beauty
  Track Listing:
  1. What I Lost
  2. Flood
  3. Hard to Build. Easy to Break
  4. Circe and Penelope
  5. Hell Is Real
  6. Shadows 2
  7. Knives
  8. Mike Tyson (Here It Comes)
  9. Throw a Match
10. Blue Skies


Tinariwen – Amatssou

How about a little context before I push off into this foreign language ultra-unique true desert rock-jazz dazzler?  Tinariwen is a collective of Tuareg musicians from basically the Sahara Desert (northern Mali if you want to get geographically technical) that love to combine western rock into their native dialect as well as instrumental uniqueness!  Ready?!  Oh come on, I’ll hold you’re headphones on, and we will do this together because I don’t want you to miss out on this album!  Hell, if Daniel Lanois is doing production and has guest appearances on this record,  you know there’s something both mysteriously important and engaging!

No you’re not going to understand the lyrics unless you’re native to it, but the voices that deliver it have a gorgeous texture and range that’s quintessential to the whole.  The titles translates to Beyond Fear or Beyond the Fear, and there’s certainly a conscious effort to a guitar styling that emulates struggle, from the dark of uncertainty to the light of potential unity that is scattered through their region. Their situation is real, remains dire, but they rebel on through the power of their sound.  A sound that’s been powerful enough to gain all kinds of attention over a decade plus of terrific music.  You can certainly dive into the hot sands of anger, political states, and suppression that have stood probably as long as the sand has covered their earth, but we encourage you to read some reviews by other publications who have skillfully done a marvelous job (John Lewis for Uncut is one such).  This album has such distinctive electric blues meshed with virtuous added instrumentation from fiddle to the imzad and probably a list of others that would escape my untrained ear.  There are albums that truly have gravity of situation, truth-filled story lines, and a real soul for all who wish to join.  Put on your noise cancelling headphones and seek the soul of Amatssou and the band, regional sound rebels, and teller that call themselves, Tinariwen.

The Band
  • Ibrahim Ag Alhabib – singer-songwriter, guitarist
  • Touhami Ag Alhassane – guitar, vocals
  • Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni – acoustic guitar, guitar, vocals
  • Eyadou Ag Leche – bassist, calabash, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, vocals
  • SaidAg Ayad – percussionist, backing vocals
  • Elaga Ag Hamid – guitarist, backing vocals
Fats Kaplin (fiddle, but could also be:  guitar, button accordion, banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, an Arab oud, Turkish cümbüş )
Wes Corbett (Banjo)
Machar Fatimata (imzad [not violin] interludes)
Daniel Lanois (steel guitar, producer)


Amatssou  Track Listing:
  1. Kek Alghalm
  2. Tenere Den
  3. Arajghiyine
  4. Imzad (Interlude)
  5. Tidjit
  6. Jayche Atarak
  7. Imidiwan Mahitinam
  8. Imzad 2 (Interlude)
  9. Ezlan
10. Anemouhagh
11. Iket Adjen
12. Nak Idnizdjam
13. Tinde (Outro)
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *