Tempest. As big a fan I am of some of Bob Dylan’s more recent albums of the last 15 years, Tempest is perhaps his most epic. That does not mean I like it as much, but this is one heavy, difficult sort of album. The heaviness comes from a bunch of factors: the topics/language, the lengths of the song, the meditative music.
That said, this isn’t closer to the top of this list due to that heaviness, even though I can admire it. As impressive of a world that Dylan creates in this album–and I love albums that are their own worlds–it is hard to get into. The songs go through murder, revenge, blood, the sinking of the Titanic, John Lennon, trains. While all those things are fairly common in the blues, this is no easy listen. (And this has nothing to do with Dylan’s oft-criticized modern voice, which I actually really like.)
What it comes down to though: at this point, Dylan isn’t going to make this easy. His focus during Tempest is on history, big epic proclamations (“I pay in blood / but not my own”), complex emotional tales (“so much for tears / so much for those long and wasted years”). This album takes work, and even myself am not sure how much I am willing to do with it. But there’s no denying that Tempest can pull you in from time to time, forcing you to do that work.