I’m a big Bob Dylan fan and would be remiss if I didn’t devote some space to his latest studio album, Tempest. That said, plenty of intellectual energy has already been spent dissecting the lyrical content of the disc; I really don’t have anything new or innovative to add. Moreover, I’m the proprietor of a guitar-themed blog. I thought it would be more appropriate to offer my guitarist’s assessment of Dylan’s musical backing on Tempest, particularly by comparison to the rest of his output over the past decade.
The “indie” music scene (whatever that means nowadays) is not known for spawning guitar gods. That’s not to say there’s a shortage of solid guitarists on call, but the instrument doesn’t tend to be front and center – at least in the classic rock & roll sense. The instrument tends to be a vehicle for the song, rather than vice versa. Which is probably as it should be, especially when the song is well-crafted and deserves to be the center of attention. M. Ward – equal parts guitarist, songwriter, arranger, producer, and all-round manipulator of soundscapes – understands this, which is why I was looking forward to his latest solo album, A Wasteland Companion.
I love guitars and amps. Not just as musical instruments, but as examples of modern design and manufacturing (in the case of mass-produced instruments), fine craftsmanship (in the case of instruments made at least partly by hand), and in some cases as works of art. I also love visiting guitar shops on the weekend to see what’s new, shoot the proverbial sh*t with the staff, and test drive new gear. I plan on writing two types of gear reviews on this blog — in-depth reviews of gear that I’ve been able to spend significant time with (most likely because I’ve purchased it), and “weekend test drive” reviews of gear that I’ve had a chance to spend a little superficial time with in guitar shops. This first review is of the latter variety.