I recently spent some time defending Bob Dylan and his place in rock history. My friend said he was a personality first and talent second. He argued that while Dylan's greatness is based on one or two really great moments in the 1960s, he hasn't been relevant for decades. While my friend is entitled to his opinion, and while there may be some validity to his argument, I think he's wrong. It's too bad that I moved away before I had a chance to really listen to Thalia Zedek's new record, "You're A Big Girl Now," because this little record is just the proof that I could have used to show that Dylan's still relevant.
Zedek's made some really interesting music in the past (Come, Live Skull), and her solo work has proven to be just as interesting. On "You're A Big Girl Now," Zedek's going for a more traditional rock singer-songwriter sound that really works for her. Two of the six songs on this mini-album are covers, including an excellent reading of Lou Reed's "Candy Says." The title track is a classic and heartbreaking Bob Dylan song that comes from his greatest musical statement, Blood on the Tracks. Zedek's voice is a deep, husky growl that sounds like she smoked too many cigarettes this morning, and that voice really captures the soul of both songs. Because both Reed and Dylan have trademark rough singing voices, Zedek's rough yet sexy growl really fits these songs.
The other four songs are equally excellent, heartbreaking, and moody. "Everything Unkind," the opening number, links in rather nicely with "No Fire," the album closer, sounding very much like a variation on the same melody. I'm particularly fond of "No Substitutions," because it's a sweet-sounding number with a hidden red hourglass on its belly--much like the best songs by Dylan and Reed.
Zedek's the first female Dylan I've heard in a long time, and unlike Patti Smith, she's actually good! "You're A Big Girl Now" is reaffirmation that the styles set down so long long ago--rock singer/songwriters. Zedek's had a very interesting career so far, and there's no reason to think that it'll get less interesting as time goes on. It's a quietly excellent record, and I'd like to think of it as a hint of forthcoming greatness.