Bob Dylan's beguiling lockdown project Shadow Kingdom to be released as a live album

Bob Dylan At Hyde Park
Bob Dylan At Hyde Park / Dave J Hogan/GettyImages

As anybody whose seen a Bob Dylan show in the last 35 years or so will know, his songs are a contradiction, timeless yet ephemeral. The formula for this contradiction is deceptively simple; in concerts, he rarely plays them with the same arrangements they had on the studio albums. The songs are living, breathing things, kept alive by his tireless touring, but their new incarnations can only be experienced live and in the moment. Now Dylan is releasing a live album Shadow Kingdom.

Constant touring is the key to this state of affairs, leading to what’s been dubbed The Never Ending Tour. Dylan balks at that designation, comparing it to calling Henry Ford a “Never Ending Car Builder.” To Dylan’s mind, playing music a lot is simply what he does. So it must have been frustrating for him to suspend touring during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

While the pandemic had Dylan sidelined, he released Shadow Kingdom, a performance filmed by Israeli filmmaker Alma Har'el. It was available for pay-per-view streaming for just 24 hours, reinforcing the ephemeral nature of the 13 songs featured, all from the first half of Dylan’s career. 

Bob Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom is now being released as a live album on June 2nd

Unconstrained by the need for a venue to accommodate his usual massive audience, Dylan performed no other. Shadow Kingdom was recorded on a soundstage, made to resemble a small intimate smoky nightclub that somehow exists out of time. The effect was strictly intended for those usually relegated to the cheap seats at a Bob Dylan show. It was like being in the front row for something otherworldly that’s never to be seen again. 

Bob Dylan’s voice has always been an acquired taste, but now so more than ever. That famous rasp “like sand and glue” is best suited to an environment where it can come through loud and clear. Dylan’s voice on Shadow Kingdom sounds better than it does even on his recent studio albums. 

The film, which has been out of circulation for almost two years will be released at the same time too, and audio of "Watching the River Flow" from Shadow Kingdom has been released onto Youtube. 

The full track list for Shadow Kingdom is:

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