Once again, Bob Dylan has polarized the critics. Some view the new Slow Train as a puerile plunge into born-again inanity; others call it his best LP in years. I’m somewhere in between.
I do have trouble relating to the specific religious references and find some of the tracks to be overly somber and ponderous. Nevertheless, Dylan’s vocals throughout rank with his best, and the backup—most notably by Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler—is superb. While Bob indeed appears to have turned to Christianity, moreover, he’s still ultimately grappling with the same issues and answers that pervade his earlier albums. His new thoughts are often fascinating, and so are such musical highlights as the title cut and the exuberant “Precious Angel.”