With the apocalypse raging outside, the final track, the eight minute opus "Aint Walkin," finds Dylan's beaten down traveler, "Walkin through the cities of the plague," and that there "ain't no altars on this long and lonesome road." Nothing is resolved as he confesses that "I am a tryin' to love my neighbor and do good unto others, but oh mother, things ain't going well." The album itself likewise fades into the black of "the last outback at the worlds end."
I don't know about you, but personally I'm game for a sequel.
While Modern Times is being promoted as the final album of the trilogy that began with Time Out Of Mind and continued through 2001's Love & Theft this album not only stands completely out on it's own, but for my money is the best of the three.
Musically, the vibe is very similar to the other two albums in the so-called trilogy. Still, I personally find the mix here to be far more varied in terms of styles. Dylan's vocals here are also not only a lot smoother around the edges (though still carrying the bluesy croak of the other two), the phrasing here is just way sharper, perhaps reflecting the more thematic focus of the lyrics.
As for the lyrics themselves? I downloaded sixteen pages worth just to properly decipher them before writing this review. Dylan hasn't written stuff this darkly fascinating and evocative in years. Modern Times is a masterpiece that is right now easily the best record I've heard this year. Five Stars? Not to put too fine a point on it, but oh hell yeah.
Incidentally the bonus version includes a DVD which includes nifty live footage of "Love Sick" from the Grammy Awards (sadly with the infamous Soy Bomb footage edited out) and videos for "Cold Irons Bound," "Things Have Changed," and "Blood In My Eyes."