Picks and Pans Review: Saved
In moving deeper into his newfound Christian faith, Dylan has produced a musically richer and more accessible album than last year's Slow Train Coming. He has avoided the petulance of Slow Train's lyrics, which often seemed a reproof to nonbelievers whose ranks he had just left. Because Saved is addressed mainly to God and Jesus, for listeners it's less a lecture than a sharing. The title track and a few other cuts suffer from an I-have-all-the-answers-now smugness, but in general even a skeptic should be impressed by Dylan's faith. "You...opened up a door no man can shut/And You opened it up so wide," he sings in What Can I Do for You? "I know all about poison/I know all about fiery darts/I don't care how rough the road is/ Show me where it starts." This song, Covenant Woman and In the Garden rank with the finest devotional music. Yet as the extraordinary harmonica solo in What Can I Do for You? makes clear, the album isn't just a religious homage. The gospel backup voices and Spooner Oldham's powerful organ playing are combined with a bluesy sound familiar to every Dylan fan. And one up-tempo song, Solid Rock, applies as much to Dylan's born-again music as to his faith.