This entry in the Dylan cannon seems largely forgotten and obscure. The idea of traditional covers by one of Folk’s major re-inventors probably didn’t set the world on fire in 1993, and no less so being his second such consecutive collection (Good as I Been to You, 1992). Many might have found it odd and even modest that this revered songwriter would turn to the words of others. Some cynics may have found it predictable, when taking into account his lilting output that came just before. World Gone Wrong is far from a cash-in, however; Dylan sounds anything but bored.
In fact, he’s in his element, singing his lungs out with bright acoustic guitar playing that is given equal presence; Dylan might never have played as assured or melodic as a soloist before. His voice has worn a lot, but it’s fitting of the music; like a tired man making one last stand of defiance, and it’s more resilient than on Good as I Been to You. Song tones and themes border on poignant tragedy and fun toe-tappers. “Delia” and “World Gone Wrong” are strong examples of the first with their fine resonant melodies, whilst “Ragged & Dirty” and “Broke Down Engine” are bold and jumpy. The closing songs hold less power but are nice enough, and there is nothing here as playful as “Frogie Went A-Courtin’”, or rowdy as “Step It Up and Go” but World Gone Wrong is far more arresting than his previous trad. outing.
A lost gem that is both touching and reflective as much as it is unpretentious. Who knew he had a full deck left to play after World Gone Wrong.