wed 19/01/2022

Albums of the Year 2021: Chrissie Hynde - Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2021: Chrissie Hynde - Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan

Albums of the Year 2021: Chrissie Hynde - Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan

Pretender rifles through Dylan's back pages

Hard times, old friends

So, it’s been another world-beating year. Known unknowns and unknown unknowns – at least two people have set Donald Rumsfeld’s 2002 Pentagon musings to music, and I’m sure I’m not alone in finding his words rather useful. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine Bob Dylan writing something similar, back in the day.

Amid the hideous unknowns, amid the existential crises in which we ineluctably still find ourselves, it is inevitable that we reach out to old friends. Bob Dylan turned 80 in May (my new edition of Bob Dylan: No Direction Home by Robert Shelton, the New York Times journalist who wrote that career-launching review, was one of several books marking the occasion) and while there was no new album from the old boy himself, Chrissie Hynde’s collection of Dylan songs has become a pleasing companion.

Released originally as a download and then as a CD, Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan is unusual as Dylan tributes go because it draws less on instantly recognisable classics and is instead weighted toward Dylan’s 1980s Christian and Judeo-Christian periods, including the generally undistinguished Shot of Love.

Hynde’s live performance at the Royal Opera House was a ragged affair which distracted from the material and her interpretation of it - we were, of course, scarcely out of lockdown so the rust was perhaps  forgiveable. The album, Hynde’s voice to the fore, forces you to listen anew to songs you might otherwise pass over, while her versions of “Blind Willie McTell”, an outtake from the Infidels sessions, and “Every Grain of Sand”, from the aforementioned Shot of Love, are real keepers, the highlights of the collection.

Like Dylan’s, Hynde’s phrasing is push-pull, and her voice suits the songs well. The arrangements are uncluttered, pared-down (recording took place during lockdown), which means there is little to do but listen to the lyrics and marvel once again at Dylan’s facility with words.

Two More Essential Albums of 2021
Diana Jones Song to a Refugee
Willie Nelson The Willie Nelson Family

Musical Experiences of the Year
Rufus Wainwright at the London Palladium: a pared-down concert with a three-piece band instead of the planned ten-piece was a memorable occasion, highlighting top-notch musicianship and allowing the songs in a wide-ranging programme to speak for themselves. A chatty and intimate evening with perfect sound.

And if I might, a mention for an upbeat and uplifting summer afternoon of Latin jazz at my festival, The Village Trip, in New York’s Washington Square Park. The great Bobby Sanabria and His Multiverse Big Band, with special guest Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer, had a couple of thousand people dancing in the Park celebrating a respite from Covid.  

Track of the Year
“We Believe You” - Diana Jones with Steve Earle, Peggy Seeger and Richard Thompson

Liz Thomson's website

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