First, to those that whine whenever Bob Dylan (or anyone else, I suspect) releases something that, in the whiner`s parlance, `is not a classic`: go and listen to the classics, then! What is this sick mindset (Brando was right) that seeks to penalize artists for having created something then always comparing whatever they do to that `classic`? Is there some competition I am not aware of?
Second, I like this cd. Of the last 4 cds Dylan has released (which I think mostly worked) this is the one that I have listened to most, over and over again. I think the music is generally more accessable. Modern Times had a sound that seemed that it should work but somehow didnt reach the dynamic ranges that make music interesting; it just didnt come across. TTL doesnt have that problem. Maybe this style (blues, tex-mex) is more conducive to getting captured in studio. It is more straight-forward than MT - it feels less arranged and perhaps this is where Dylan remains strongest, though some think the `one-take` recording style he has tended to employ throughout was outgrown in the 80s.
Lyrics are where most get caught up in this `not a classic` bleating. The lyrics are not Visions of Johanna or Desolation Row (note to whiners: those are already written; go give em a spin). The lyrics work, they fit, they are nuanced and not tacked on. They dont contain the impossible stories and long distance scenarios and casts of thousands, but they fit the tradition from which the music is derived, giving the overall cd a chance to sound like a project, rather than a bunch of songs.
Such qualities are subjective, despite what the critics and their mortgage lenders would have you believe. Ultimately, it comes down to how you feel after the last song ends - do you want to listen again or not. If you have any trust in the merits of this particular artist then you may like this cd. Or you may not. Good luck. (I give it `5 stars` because that step is mandatory. personally, i think such quantification crude and useless.)