Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes review

(Electromagnetic Recordings/Island/Harvest)

Given that Bob Dylan and the Band recorded more than 100 tracks when they were holed up in rural Woodstock in 1967 (many of which have only just been released as an expanded Basement Tapes package) it’s extraordinary that Dylan had written lyrics to a further 40 songs, brought to life here by T Bone Burnett. The producer has assembled a cast of worthies – Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) and Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) – to put music to Dylan’s unpublished lyrics. But it doesn’t sound like anyone’s side project. James in particular is in fine voice, howling the blues on Down on the Bottom and sleazing his way through the woozy Hidee Hidee Ho #11. Lost on the River recalls the spontaneity and sheer love of music-making of the original, but it’s not hamstrung by reverence or caution. Tracks such as Nothing to It tap into the same deep wells of traditional American music from which the Basement Tapes sprouted.

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Jon Dennis

The GuardianTramp

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