I have always had a soft spot for New Morning, since hearing "Went to See the Gypsy" on a college radio station one night shortly after the record was first released. Dylan is in fine voice on this album; his unique and eloquent style of piano playing dominates many of the songs, giving it a unique vibe; and it may be his "happiest" record, celebrating the joys of domesticity, family life, and country living. "Gypsy," "Day of the Locusts," "Sign on a Window," "Time Passes Slowly," "If Dogs Run Free" are all examples of Dylan contentedly working on miniatures in the light. Fans of The Big Lebowski will have a Dude-dream flashback when "The Man in Me" rolls along. At the time of its release this album was hailed as a return to form by a counterculture intelligentsia worried by the inscrutable mess that was Self-Portrait, following hard upon the MOR countrypolitan smoothness of Nashville Skyline. "New Morning" marks the beginning of the peak period of his mature singing voice; he sounds gritty, with a manlier edge to his voice, and for better or worse the "velvet sneer" of the mid-60s masterpieces is gone forever. For all the variety of his material in the 70s, he went from strength to strength vocally; after "New Morning," there came "Planet Waves," "Blood on the Tracks," the overrated "Desire," the underrated "Street Legal," and "Slow Train Coming" all of which feature some of Dylan's most powerful singing. "New Morning" was never his best-produced album, being rather ramshackle sonically with sometimes slapdash arrangements, but this superb remaster lets you hear it all more clearly and in greater detail. Highly recommended.
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