Is he a crooner or just a croaky voiced geezer? Those questions will be answered when Bob Dylan releases what might be the most unusual album in a long career of surprises—a collection of songs associated with Frank Sinatra.
Dylan’s “Shadows in the Night,” featuring covers of 10 tunes including “Autumn Leaves” and “What’ll I Do,” will be released Feb. 3. Even though he’s considered one of the greatest songwriters in American popular music, he has released albums of cover songs, most recently 1993’s folk-music collection, “World Gone Wrong.”
But never before has focused an album on the songs associated with one artist.
"It was a real privilege to make this album," Dylan said in a statement. "I've wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a five-piece band. That's the key to all these performances.
"We knew these songs extremely well. It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded. I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way. They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day."
On tour recently, including at his three Minneapolis concerts at the Orpheum in November, Dylan closed the evening with “Stay with Me,” which will be on the Sinatra album. Frankly, his crooning on this ballad was one of the night’s highlights, and his often ravaged voice sounded surprisingly musical.
He also posted another song, "Full Moon and Empty Arms,” on his website last spring along with the cover of the album “Shadows in the Night” but no explanation.
The explanation finally came Tuesday from Columbia Records, which will release the new album. The announcement said there are no strings or background vocals on the recording. Dylan produced the project under his pseudonym, Jack Frost.
Here are the songs on the album:
1. "I'm a Fool to Want You"
2. "The Night We Called It a Day"
3. "Stay With Me"
4. "Autumn Leaves"
5. "Why Try to Change Me Now"
6. "Some Enchanted Evening"
7. "Full Moon and Empty Arms"
8. "Where Are You?
9. "What'll I Do"
10. "That Lucky Old Sun"