Bob Dylan's "Love and Theft"--his 31st studio album and the second album in his late 90's/early 2000's comeback (Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, Modern Times)--is an essential album for anyone looking to sample "American Music", and is a highly recommended album for anyone regardless.
The album achieves such an accurate representation of what “America” is with what David Mcnair calls a “complete artistic synthesis. On "Love and Theft,"country, blues, folk, swing, and rock all converge with Dylan's husky growl into a form of music that he has himself described as "all mashed up." Throw in some F Scott Fitzgerald quotes, pecan pies, and a wide cast of jokers, gamblers and other operators of the iconic neon midnight big city american scene… put that over Dylan’s growling voice that sounds like it’s been soaked in Wild Turkey and left in a smokehouse for a decade, and you have pure extracted AMERICA in music. It’s something that very few can get close to pulling off (maybe Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Johnny Cash?).
The title of the album, “Love and Theft”, is based on the same titled book by Eric Lott which describes the history of minstrelsy in America.
Dylan’s song is greatly influenced by the negro blues. To quote Eric Lott, "High Water" sounds the most like actual minstrel show music from the 19th century, which is interesting not only since it's dedicated specifically to black blues singer (donor?) Charley Patton but also because it's a song of high seriousness, as though ultimate truths are rooted in cultural plunder.”
Lott goes on to defend Dylan (not that there’s really any criticisms) by saying “He's one of those rare people, like Michelle Shocked, in fact, for whom cultural miscegenation is a spur to cultural newness and uniqueness. Dylan goes his own way”. Basically, Dylan’s not playing the part of mistral in the creation of this album, but is still acknowledging his negro folk blues influences with the title “Love and Theft”.
Don’t expect the album to be a “Blonde on Blonde” and you would be crazy to expect something on the level of “Blood on the Tracks”, but this is still a very good Dylan album and is another testament to his status of one of the greatest artists of all time (seriously, who comes out with one of the best albums of the decade--check out the reviews--as their 31st studio album?!?).
Best songs: “Mississippi” and “Summer Days”. Look them up on spotify or something cause they aren’t on youtube (Dylan’s stingy about his copyright).