Fallen Angels (Bob Dylan album)

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Fallen Angels
Bob Dylan - Fallen Angels.jpg
Studio album by Bob Dylan
Released May 20, 2016
Recorded February 2015-March 2016
Studio Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, U.S.
Genre Traditional pop
Length 37:50
Language English
Label Columbia
Producer Jack Frost
Bob Dylan chronology
The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966
(2015)
Fallen Angels
(2016)
The 1966 Live Recordings
(2016)
Singles from Fallen Angels
  1. "Melancholy Mood"
    Released: April 7, 2016

Fallen Angels is the 37th studio album by Bob Dylan, released by Columbia Records on May 20, 2016.[1]

The album consists of cover versions of twelve classic American songs chosen by Dylan from a diverse array of writers such as Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, Sammy Cahn and Carolyn Leigh.[1] Much like the album's predecessor, Shadows in the Night, every song on the album, except for "Skylark", was once recorded by Frank Sinatra.[2]

The album has received generally favorable reviews from critics, with particular praise for Dylan's vocal performance, production quality, and the arrangements of his band.[3] Fallen Angels received a nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, held in February 2017.[4]

Composition and recording[edit]

Fallen Angels was recorded in 2015 at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, with his touring band.[1]

Release and promotion[edit]

Fallen Angels was released by Columbia Records on May 20, 2016.

Prior to release, on April 7, 2016, the song "Melancholy Mood" was made available on iTunes as an Instant Gratification track,[1] and via streaming on YouTube. On April 28, 2016, the day Dylan concluded a tour of Japan, a second track from the album, "All the Way", became available to download from iTunes and stream on YouTube.

In promotion for the release, Dylan released a 7" EP on April 16, 2016, titled Melancholy Mood, and limited to 7000 copies.[5]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.0/10[6]
Metacritic77/100[3]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[7]
The A.V. ClubB+[8]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[9]
FLOOD Magazine5/10[10]
The Independent4/5 stars[11]
NOW5/5 stars[12]
Paste8.5/10[13]
Pitchfork Media6.4/10 [14]
PopMatters7/10 stars[15]
The Telegraph5/5 stars[16]

Fallen Angels has received mostly positive reviews from critics thus far. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album currently holds an average score of 77, which indicates "generally favorable reviews", based on 21 reviews.[3]

Particular praise has been heaped on the band arrangements, production, and Dylan's voice. In a four-star review, Andy Gill of The Independent wrote, "the restrained picking and creamy pedal-steel guitar of his live band imposes a smooth but demotic country mood behind Dylan’s elegant, world-weary croon".[11] Likewise, Jim Farber of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "Dylan alights on these words [the lyrics] with a wry delicacy. His voice may be husky and damaged from decades of performing, but there’s beauty to its character. Tellingly, he delivers these songs of love lost and cherished not with a burning passion but with the wistfulness of experience."[9] Helen Brown in her five-star review for The Daily Telegraph also praised Dylan's vocal abilities on the album, stating, "Although some people have always maintained that Dylan 'can't sing', the truth is that—like Sinatra—he's always had a knockout knack for putting a lyric across... Now he inhabits classic lines by songwriters like Johnny Mercer with weathered ease."[16]

Vish Khanna of Now Magazine also praised the album, in a five-star review, writing, "Fallen Angels is a hazy, laid-back history lesson with as many enigmatic twists and turns as a classic double-cross caper. It subverts archetypes of romance, heroism and interpersonal connection to reveal something more sinister about human intent, all packaged in beautiful musicianship of the highest order."[12]

In relation to the idea of Dylan covering songs from the Great American Songbook, Mat Snow of Mojo Magazine writes in a four-star review:

What Dylan gives us in these recordings is something of a sentimental memoir...aged four at a family party he brought the house down with his renditions of Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive and Some Sunday Morning...with seemingly nothing in common with his thrillingly modern yet deep-rooted songs two decades later...Yet he has form as a writer in this idiom in such songs as 2001’s Moonlight, arguably even 1969’s Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You.[17]

Also praising the concept behind Fallen Angels and its predecessor, Shadows in the Night, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote:

These wise, wily interpretations underscore Dylan's ultimate aim with these Sinatra records, which is to slyly tie together various strands of American music, bringing Tin Pan Alley to the barrooms and taking the backwoods uptown. The results are understated yet extraordinary, an idiosyncratic, romantic vision of 20th century America.[7]

Jon M. Gilbertson, in a review from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, opines, "Fallen Angels, like last year's Shadows in the Night, teases out threads of Sinatra sentimentality — Frank recorded nearly all the songs on both discs — and winds them around a voice that is desiccated in tone and tune but, in phrasing and emotion, can still find romantic blossoms among the painful thorns."[18] Likewise, Andy Gill of Uncut Magazine, in a positive review of 8 stars out of 10, also related the album to Shadows in the Night, feeling that "Dylan has continued to restrict his choice to those songs which conform loosely to a mood of weary resignation, extending the engaging crepuscular mood of Shadows in the Night."[19]

However, Chris Gerard, writing for PopMatters, felt that the album did not quite live up to the standard set by Dylan's previous Great American Songbook project, Shadows in the Night, writing, in an otherwise positive review, "It’s not on the same level as Shadows in the Night, which is darker, more emotionally intense and an altogether more potent experience. At times Fallen Angels feels a bit lightweight in comparison. Still, it’s a touching tribute to Dylan’s continued passion for music, his love of performing and a celebration of some damn good songs."[15]

Accolades[edit]

Publication Accolade Year Rank
Mojo The 50 Best Albums of 2016 2016 20[20]

Dylan was also nominated for the Grammy award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal for the second year in a row (following the successful Shadows in the Night).

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Young at Heart"Johnny Richards, Carolyn Leigh2:59
2."Maybe You’ll Be There"Rube Bloom, Sammy Gallop2:56
3."Polka Dots and Moonbeams"Jimmy Van Heusen, Johnny Burke3:20
4."All the Way"Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn4:01
5."Skylark"Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer2:56
6."Nevertheless"Harry Ruby, Bert Kalmar3:27
7."All or Nothing at All"Arthur Altman, Jack Lawrence3:04
8."On a Little Street in Singapore"Peter DeRose, Billy Hill2:15
9."It Had to Be You"Isham Jones, Gus Kahn3:39
10."Melancholy Mood"Walter Schumann, Vick R. Knight, Sr.2:53
11."That Old Black Magic"Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer3:04
12."Come Rain or Come Shine"Arlen, Johnny Mercer2:37

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from the liner notes.

  • Bob Dylan – vocals

Additional musicians

Production and design

  • Al Schmitt – mixing and engineering
  • Steve Genewick – assistant engineering
  • James Harper – horn arrangements/conducting
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Geoff Gans – album artwork

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d ""Fallen Angels" to be Released May 20". Bob Dylan. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  2. ^ "Bob Dylan Details New Album Fallen Angels, Shares "Melancholy Mood"". Pitchfork Media. April 7, 2016. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Fallen Angels Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  4. ^ Unterberger, Andrew (6 December 2016). "Here Is the Complete List of Nominees for the 2017 Grammys". Billboard. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  5. ^ "PromotionalItem". Record Store Day. 2016-04-16. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  6. ^ "Bob Dylan: Fallen Angels". AnyDecentMusic?. anydecentmusic.com. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Bob Dylan, Fallen Angels review". AllMusic. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  8. ^ "Dylan wows again with a second standards album". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Bob Dylan's Fallen Angels: EW Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  10. ^ "Bob Dylan, "Fallen Angels"". Flood magazine. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Bob Dylan, Fallen Angels review: The singer's oft criticised vocals shine here". The Independent. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Fallen Angels". Nowtoronto.com. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  13. ^ "Bob Dylan: Fallen Angels Review". Paste. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  14. ^ Winston Cook-Wilson (2016-05-23). "Bob Dylan: Fallen Angels Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  15. ^ a b "Bob Dylan – Fallen Angels". PopMatters. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Bob Dylan, Fallen Angels, review -'inhabiting classics with weathered ease'". The Telegraph. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  17. ^ "Dylan reverts once more to his first language of song, and beautifully". Mojo. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  18. ^ Gilbertson, Jon M. (May 20, 2016). "Album Reviews: Bob Dylan, Ariana Grande, Eric Clapton, Blake Shelton". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  19. ^ "Bob Dylan – Fallen Angels". Uncut. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  20. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2016". Mojo. November 22, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
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