The Upshot: It takes a lot to laugh, a lot to cry, and a whole lotta balls and talent to attempt a Dylan covers project.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
It takes balls or whole lot of talent to attempt a covers album of all Bob Dylan songs. Thankfully, Willie Nile has both.
It certainly helps that Nile didn’t fall into one of two traps that usually mar cover songs: trying to sound too much like the original or trying to sound completely different than the original. Instead, Nile, a brilliant songwriter in his own right, simply put a little distance between Dylan’s style without trying to destroy the bones of each song. The result manages to be a refreshing take on comfortable songs.
His take on “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and “I Want You” are a little closer to the traditional versions and while still great, are not nearly as stellar as some of the other offerings here. The biggest differences can be heard on a song like “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” which comes across as a bar band singalong, much faster and with a sturdier backbeat and a glorious backing chorus. Nile also takes a more rock-focus to the folkie go-to “Blowin’ In The Wind,” for equally impressive results
McCartney and Lennon are probably the only other musicians who have had their songs covered as often as Dylan and rarely does it elicit more than a curious single listen. With Positively Bob, Nile manages to make one of the few cover albums worth owning.
DOWNLOAD: “The Times They Are A-Changin.’” “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues”