Not as if there were any doubt, but Eric Clapton knows how to play the blues.
And on the aptly-titled “I Still Do,” the 71-year-old music legend proves it all over again with a smooth, sonically soothing mix of covers with a couple originals thrown in. He’s not breaking any new ground here, or tearing the roof off with scorching guitar solos, but that’s OK.
“I Still Do,” just like Clapton, delivers.
Clapton reunites with famed producer Glyn Johns, who was also behind Clapton’s most popular record “Slowhand.” And the songs on “I Still Do” – with purring female backup singers and an economy of gently rollicking guitar licks – almost sound like outtakes from that 1977 classic that spawned “Wonderful Tonight” and “Lay Down Sally.”
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Clapton has always been an insightful interpreter of Bob Dylan’s work, and he shows it again with his distinctive take on the relative obscurity from 1967 “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.”
Clapton closes with his cover of the standard “I'll Be Seeing You,” which hopefully is a hint of more to come and not a farewell.
After his own songs have been covered by hundreds of artists over the past half century, Bob Dylan is turning the tables for a second time in as many years.
On “Fallen Angels,” which comes a year after the similarly themed “Shadows in the Night,” Dylan once again offers his interpretations of American standards popularized by Frank Sinatra.
Opting to use his own band, and not an orchestra, Dylan creates a relaxed, mellow mood and sounds in fine spirits as he croons his way through 12 familiar songs including “Young at Heart” and “That Old Black Magic.”
Dylan has long sprinkled in cover songs, both on his records and in concert, over his incomparable career. And this isn’t even the first time he’s released entire records of covers back-to-back.
The last time he did it, in 1992 and 1993, Dylan revisited the folk songs that powered his ascent in the early 1960s. Those records, which preceded a late-career renaissance kicked off with 1997’s “Time Out of Mind,” were met with a shrug by many longtime Dylan fans.
Those looking for new Dylan material may feel the same kind of ambivalence to “Fallen Angels.” Perhaps the feelings of the 74-year-old Dylan, who has spent his career largely avoiding the unwieldy expectations of fans and critics, can be best surmised with lyrics from “Come Rain or Come Shine,” which closes the record.
“Happy together. Unhappy together. And won’t that be fine?” Dylan sings. “I’m with you always. I’m with you rain or shine.”
“I Still Do”