If you want to talk about Tempest, Bob Dylan's 35th studio album, you will at some point have to comment on the (obvious) decrepitude of the bard's voice. It sounds ... well, it sounds like all sorts of odd things, depending on which critic you ask. (Not that Bob Dylan is interested in what the critics think.) An unofficial prose contest is going down in the Tempest reviews, and so to honor great moments in synonyms for "rough," Vulture now presents the following cheat sheet of the most vivid descriptions of the 71-year-old's singing voice.
" ... avuncular, the wry cackle of a codger who still has an eye for the ladies. [...] a raspy, phlegmy bark that’s not exactly melodic and by no means welcoming." —John Pareles, New York Times
" ... his zombie bullfrog holler" —Sean Daly, Tampa Bay Times
" … a battered instrument that sounds like a hoarse Fred Sanford after an all-night fight with Lamont." —Howard Cohen, Miami Herald"
" ... [a] gargle of a vocal ... " —Jim Fusili, Wall Street Journal
" … sounds as if he's been gargling with gravel for the last several decades." —Dan DeLuca, Philly.com
" ... sounds like he's been eating nuts and bolts for the past half-century ... " —Randall Roberts, L.A. Times' Pop & Hiss
" … fury and his ruined larynx combine to remarkable effect. The opening line comes out as a terrifying, incomprehensible growl that sounds like one of those death-metal vocalists in full flight." —Alex Pettridis, The Guardian
" ... like David Johansen after three packs of Pall Malls." —Justin, ChunkyGlasses.com
" ... At times it sounds (and seems) like this is Bob Dylan-pretending-to-be-Tom Waits-pretending-to-be Bob Dylan." —Simon Sweetman, Blog on the Tracks
"He sounds tubercular." —Jim Farber, New York Daily News