Keeping steadfastly true to its name, Modern Times, Dylan's 31st studio album (44th in total) features guest appearances from Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, Moby and the Pussycat Dolls. OK, perhaps that's not strictly true - a peculiar namecheck of soul songstress Alicia Keys is about as far as his apparent neoteric values stretch - but perhaps the title makes more sense if prefaced with a 'Bob Dylan's Disdain For..'. There's no newfangled gadgetry or OTT production on display here; Modern Times is a back-to-basics, stripped down, essentially austere roots-smothered album. At this stage in his career, any 65-year old artist's output is either going to be shunned or lauded, regardless of the effect his complete body of work has had on modern music; yet before it was even released, MT was being hailed as a work of genius, the final instalment in the trinity of supposed magnificence (following 1997's Time Out of Mind and 2001's Love and Theft), and has even been compared by some to Desire and Blood On the Tracks. It's nowhere near as good, though it does sit well with both of its recent predecessors. Announcing its arrival with a cavalcade of drums that slips into a swinging honky-tonk medley, Thunder on the Mountain instigates the bluesy ragtime sound that Dylan has perfected for this particular collection. Shuffling ruggedly between dainty, piano-led ballads (Beyond the Horizon), rollicking Southern-style ditties (Nettie Moore), and jazzy lounge club tunes (Spirit on the Water), Modern Times' consistency plays a key role in its appeal. His touring band provide a solid, if ultimately uninspiring backing; lyrically, as always, he's still capable of churning out a gem or three; and his throaty rasp has never quite sounded so world-weary, yet at times is reminiscent of Louis Armstrong on helium (see Someday Baby) or Tom Waits (staid ballad Workingman's Blue's #2).It may not be the slice of ostentatious ingenuity that some think it is, but Modern Times finds Dylan in fine form and as unwaveringly reliable as ever.