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Ballantine, Charlie: Life Is Brief: The Music Of Bob Dylan

Here is a real treat for any Dylan fan out there. The album is titled Life Is Brief: The Music Of Bob Dylan from Indianapolis based guitarist Charlie Ballantine.

I have reviewed a couple of his albums; Providence (2016) and Where Is My Mind? (2017), both fine efforts. Ballantine is back with his fourth effort Life Is Brief, a homage to one of his heroes Bob Dylan. Ballantine tackles some all-out classics, giving them his own unique spin, especially his use of atmospheric guitar effects. This really comes out in a couple of tunes from Dylan’s classic 1964 album The Times They Are A-Changin’; the title track and “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”. With ‘Times’ Ballantine works in reverse effects and trippy atmospherics into the original’s timeless melody while the latter is as pretty as they come. The effects have a symphony of sound, very grandiose and completely captivating giving these tunes a subtle dramatic flair. Three tracks are taken from 1963’s Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan; “Masters Of War”, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. “Masters Of War”, an antiwar protest song, is off the charts good, punctuated with Rob Dixon’s tremendous saxophone. His notes soar as the band build to a climactic denouement playing with passion and conviction. ‘Don’t Thing Twice’ is just a lovely reworking with pretty guitar chords and poignant vocals from Brandon Whyte with just the right amount of raspiness. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" is another wonderful rendition with the brushed drums lightly propelling the song’s enchanting rhythm and genre defining melody. Another highlight has to be the bass and sax work in “Shelter From The Storm”, it gave me chills on first listen. Yes, it’s that good.

Ballantine and his band really hit the mark here as their passion and feeling comes through in every note played. Ballantine knows enough not to tamper too much with these classic songs while still making them shine in his own light. A compelling listen to be sure and a must have for any fan of the great Bob Dylan.

Track Listing:
1. The Times They Are A-Changin’ (5:19)
2. The Death Of Emmett Till (5:55)
3. She Belongs To Me (4:17)
4. Masters Of War (6:25)
5. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll (7:19)
6. It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) (4:35)
7. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (4:23)
8. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (4:24)
9. Shelter From The Storm (4:12)
10. Tears Of Rage (3:35)
11. One More Cup Of Coffee (6:07)
12. I Shall Be Released (5:13)

Added: June 10th 2018
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 560
Language: english

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