It's hard to believe the powers that be saw fit to remaster this album and not Time Out Of Mind, considering that this was only two years old when it got the super audio treatment. Nevertheless, the album does see improvement on the SACD layer. Listen to the old and new versions of "Sugar Baby" and you'll know that you're now in the presence of a superior recording, one that captures more fully the grit in Bob's voice and the tone of instruments that, in places, can't even be heard on the original pressing. The producers make another interesting choice here: rather than pulling the vocals out of the mix and running them through the center channel, as some of the other 5.1 mixes in the remastered series do, they remain on the front speakers, buried in the band as befits this, the most band-reliant Dylan album in a while.
As for the actual music, it didn't get all that critical acclaim for nothing. The passage of time may have dulled the "This could be his best ever" rhetoric, but Love and Theft is still a high point in the Dylan catalog, among his most consistent and listenable records. Despite being released on, of all days, 9/11, this isn't a socially-important record like his earliest work, but it's easier to put in the player and enjoy without so frequently pondering injustice; it isn't a stunning heartbreak record like Blood on the Tracks, but you can tap your feet and sing along to "Summer Days" and "Honest With Me." There's room for all of those sides of Bob Dylan in his catalog, and hearing him explore this side, and mine the history of American music for sonic gold, is well worth the price of admission.