Dylan returns with another volume of pre-rock classics. It lacks the element of surprise of Shadows in the Night but it is warm and beautifully played
Years ago, there was a little parlour game (ok, pub game) played among music fans. It involved imagining the most unlikely of singers performing utterly mismatched cover versions. Noel Coward sings The Doors; Mark E Smith does Prince; and Bernard Manning sings The Smiths (actually, that one did happen) were among the top hits.
The idea of Bob Dylan, one of the “worst” great voices of the 20th century singing Sinatra, one of the great voices of the 20th century, was just too surreal to imagine. But here we are on the second volume of Dylan’s loving and only occasionally wonky take on songs penned by Johnny Mercer, Carolyn Leigh et al and made famous by Frank.
Culled from the same sessions as 2015’s smash hit Shadows in The Night, this new album - released just a few days before Dylan’s 75 birthday - is another glad but also sly-eyed delve into the sparkling catalogue of pre-rock oldies. It lacks the element of surprise of that first album but nobody could fail to be impressed by Dylan’s loose interpretations of Young at Heart, That Old Black Magic and, funniest of all, It Had to be You.
His voice wavers and cracks often (the wayward failure to hit the notes on All The Way is wonderful) but Fallen Angels has a beautiful lived-in twilight quality. It also has a real gone to seed, gothic glamour. In fact, you could imagine Dylan and his regular lieutenants, guitarist Charlie Sexton and bassist Tony Garnier, playing somewhere in the background in a David Lynch movie. The playing is exemplary and the sleepy production (by Dylan himself as Jack Frost) is warm and resonant throughout.
This is another loving tribute, sung and played with real heart and humour, from a man who shook up the tuxedoed stiffs with his own set of soon to be American classics more than 50 years ago,