Missing someone this Valentine’s Day? Feeling lonely? “Shadows of the Night” may be the perfect album for your February 14 playlist. Wallow in your heartache with 10 Bob Dylan covers of love songs Frank Sinatra once sang.
Frank Sinatra had a voice as smooth as the lines that swept ladies off their feet but Bob Dylan (he of the harsh, oft-unintelligible voice) really stepped up to the challenge, his voice clear and moving. Although keeping closely to the original recordings, Dylan pars down the sound, replacing the bright violins in Sinatra’s takes with the dark throb of a bowed bass and Hawaiian-tinged weeping of guitarist Donny Herron. It’s the perfect complement to Dylan’s weary drawl.
The 10 slow, lonely ballads are tackled with the patience of an old soul, touching on everything from unrequited love to confusing breakups.
Loss is a common theme (“What’ll I do with just a photograph to tell my troubles to?”), as is heartbreak. “The Night We Called It A Day” throws down some particularly aching lines: “The moon went down, stars were gone/But the sun didn’t rise with the dawn”. “I’m A Fool To Want You”, accentuated with trickling piano notes, laments unrequited love and the familiar irony of being drawn to someone who just isn’t right for you.
There’s a bright side to love as well. Dreamy lyrics and gentle guitar take a waltz together on “Some Enchanted Evening”, capturing the thrill of meeting someone and hoping for love at first sight. Deep into a relationship, “Stay With Me” begs of his lover that “Should my heart not be humble, should my eyes fail to see/Should my feet sometimes stumble on the way, stay with me”.
This feeling of loyalty continues with “Why Try To Change Me Now”, which playfully acknowledges that his lover has accepted his flaws for who he is. “That Lucky Old Sun” closes off the album with a religious plea for an afterlife as idle as the sun across the sky.
With his straightforward, understated tribute, Dylan has given fresh life to some of Sinatra’s old gems.