At 71 years old, Bob Dylan's 35th studio album has whipped up as much anticipation amongst music lovers as any other. Tempest has, so far, drawn a largely positive response from the critics. Though few people would have many negative comments about Dylan's enduring song-writing skills and poetic imagery, his voice has been ravaged by time and there's really no hiding from the fact that his vocal performance is not what it used to be. However, somewhat remarkably, it seems to be this gnarly vocal style that lends 'Tempest' its gravitas
Writing for Los Angeles Times, Robert Randall describes Dylan's voice as "deeply wounded," though he hints that the battle scars worn on Dylan's vocal cords are actually part of the appeal: "Stories told by a man in his 70s are taken with more weight than a man in his 20s. And when said man sounds like he's been eating nuts and bolts for the past half-century and he's a born storyteller, a living legend and trickster, said weight gets even heavier."David Bauder of Associated Press is equally forgiving, saying "Dylan's voice is a guttural growl now, that's no secret, but he knows how to enunciate and sing. None of the words pass by unnoticed."
Comparisons to another hoary-voiced troubadour, Tom Waits, are rife, with Mark Beech of Bloomberg pronouncing "The shattered voice sounds less like a cow stuck in an electric fence this time. More like Tom Waits gargling with crushed glass" and Simon Sweetman for Blog on the Tracks remarking that at times, folk music's favorite pensioner sounds like "Bob Dylan pretending to be Tom Waits pretending to be Bob Dylan."