Triplicate is the 38th studio album of nobel laureate Bob Dylan which follows on from his two previous releases of a similar ilk, Fallen Angels and Shadows in the Night, of 2015 and 2016 respectively. Fallen Angels in 2015 began his endeavour with the great American songbook – a reinterpretation of classic American songs, from before the folk explosion in the 1960s. Triplicate has continued this trend of Dylan’s, except this time he has given us a three disc, thirty track album – a first for him. Each disc has 10 tracks and they are all thematically arranged and named ‘Til the Sun Goes Down, Devil Dolls and Comin’ Home Late.
In recent years Dylan has been slated for his deteriorating vocals, a mere side effect of using one’s own voice as an instrument for fifty plus years. Dylan was never known for his amazing vocal ability, so why let that get in the way of a good album now? Now that he sounds undoubtedly more haggard, but all the more interesting and astute, true fans will get past the scratchy vocals and breathe them in as part of this beautiful, soulful album full of sorrow and pain, with themes of loneliness and ageing.
At thirty tracks, it’s a commitment, but a good one at that. When listened to in each of its parts, it becomes more manageable and once fully engaged in it, it is a joy. The song are all covers – mostly Sinatra but with a flurry of other classic artists such as Jimmy Van Heusen and Jerome Kern. Dylan croons his way through most of the album made up of mostly ballads, including ‘September of My Years’ and ‘Once Upon a Time’ – both of which ponder the subject of old age and reminiscence in a gentle, bitter-sweet way.
Amidst this sombre balladry there are a few upbeat tracks, including opening number ‘I’ll Guess I’ll Have to Change my Plans’ which sets the album off on a lulling, chirpy rhythm. The brass accompaniment on this track is deliciously seductive, unleashing the inner jazz enthusiast in those that are so inclined. The album then swallows the listener in – if they allow it – for over ninety five minutes of smooth yet raspy, humorous yet sorrowful jazz – Dylan style. While Triplicate is lengthy and a far cry from his pop-culture status of years past, it is a must for any life-long fans or indeed lovers of the Sinatra era.