Maria Muldaur

Heart of Mine: Love Songs of Bob Dylan

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Maria Muldaur has been taken by Bob Dylan's music from the very start. They were on the coffeehouse circuit in New York in the early '60s, and she's had occasion to sing his praises from the stage and in Martin Scorsese's film No Direction Home. And while other artists from Joan Baez to Judy Collins have cut entire albums of Dylan's tunes, none of them feels quite like this one. Muldaur, a fine blues and jazz singer, has taken the songs form Dylan's romantic canon and has fashioned them in her own image without losing their original bite, wonder, and humor. Accompanied by her road band and a slew of guests that include Amos Garrett, Danny Caron, and Suzy Thompson, she has created a dreamy, languid, memorable song cycle. On first listen, it was a bit off-putting with all the license she took with the material, but on second and repeated listens, it settled in like an old friend on the couch telling stories. Beginning with a slippery, country-tinged bluesy "Buckets of Rain," and moving into a jazz groove on "Lay Lady Lay," (a weak tune by Dylan even if it was a hit) in which she changes the lyrics along gender lines and transforms the tune, perhaps offering a definitive version. The blues return on "To Be Alone with You," and she delivers a wrenching version of "Heart of Mine." The other stellar cuts here are the poignant "Wedding Song," the jaunty Caribbean-flavored "On a Night Like This," the sultry "Make You Feel My Love," and a funky jazz version of "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," which sounds like it could have been produced by Allen Toussaint as does "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight." Recommended.

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