Naturally, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band gives Bob Dylan songs a little extra twang with "Dirt Does Dylan." They're a fairly traditional country act, after all. Then again, so much of Dylan's music was/is already quite country, so they didn't have to rearrange it all too much. There's lots of fiddle, harmonica and acoustic instrumentation, however, and it's all good.
When choosing these nine songs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band mainly stayed with familiar tunes. "Country Pie" is probably the most obscure track of the bunch. The band also selected primarily older stuff, so if you're hoping for something from, say, "Oh Mercy," you're out of luck. This is mostly '60s material. Wisely, the album opens with "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You," taken from Dylan's 'country' album, "Nashville Skyline."
NDGB's take on "She Belongs to Me," with its upfront fiddle, is especially country sounding. The album also includes a couple of guest turns. Larkin Poe sings on "I Shall Be Released," while "The Times They Are A-Changin'" features Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Jason Isbell and The War and Treaty. However, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is a doggone good, self-contained group, and doesn't really need the star power. For example, the band breathes new life into "Forever Young," which has probably been over-covered over the years.
Those that struggle with Dylan's singing style, may find new a appreciation for the man's songs because of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's superior musicality here. This is essential music – whether in its original form or done country (as here), so it's always a pleasure to hear artists saluting Mr. Dylan. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was absolutely up to the task.