Shadows In The Night is Bob Dylan’s 36th studio album. Whilst it might seem strange that the man often regarded as the songwriter’s songwriter would release an album completely consisting of cover versions, it’s not the first time that his albums have been either mostly comprised (Bob Dylan, Self-Portrait) or even completely comprised (Good As I Been To You, World Gone Wrong, Christmas In The Heart), of cover versions, or if you want to be specific, traditional songs.
This time round, the theme is songs popularised by Frank Sinatra in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Reportedly 23 songs were recorded – so we can either expect another studio album to reveal more, or another of his fantastic Bootleg series. And as a whole album, it hangs together really, really well. The sleeve suggests the classic smoky late night atmosphere of Sinatra’s studio albums or jazz albums of the period. These are songs that require a croon – which he does well. Whilst it falters a little on ‘Stay With Me’ the vocal style is midway between Sinatra and Dylan at his more gruff.
Indeed some of these covers are genuinely moving – the South Pacific song ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ and though brief, ‘Autumn Leaves’ is this scribe’s favourite. It’s a gorgeous album overall, with a fantastic melancholy that makes it something to treasure. Covers albums can be hit or miss, but overall this is a fine example of one that works, and shows us that six decades in, Dylan is still capable of surprises.
Shadows In The Night is out now on Columbia/Sony