What is there left to say about David Lynch? A master of obfuscation, a perusal of any number of interviews he's given over the last decade reveal him to be very good at saying a lot while saying nothing at all. It's not unusual for artists - which Lynch truly is, one of the greatest multi-disciplinarians of our time - to want their art to speak for itself, but rarely has anyone achieved this so completely on their own terms. Nor does he play up to the tortured, struggling creative stereotype - "Ideas are like fish. They just come to you sometimes" - describing the writing process for 2011's Crazy Clown Time thus; "You sit down and make a song. And then lo and behold you make a second song and then one day you have 14 songs. And then they go onto an album."

As an adjective, "Lynchian" long ago slipped into cliché territory, convenient shorthand for anything remotely dark, mysterious, or unfathomably freakish, but his debut proper conformed to what most imagined a Lynch album should sound like; hypnotic, droning blues drenched in echo and reverb, his nasal tones modulated and processed, chopped and screwed. Sure, he stepped outside this template for a couple of tracks - the outstanding, Karen O-helmed 'Pinky's Dream', and the minimal, driving dance of 'Good Day Today', a song so far removed from his oeuvre that KCRW's Jason Bentley infamously mistook it for Underworld - but otherwise he remained on comfortable, familiar ground, slow jams built up through extensive sessions and exhaustive tinkering with long time producer and collaborator "Big" Dean Hurley at his home studio in LA.

The Big Dream continues where they left off, and although it follows a similar path, it's noticeably less bluesy, less loose than Clown. There's still plenty of lap-steel and the raw, rugged tones of rock's roots, but it's a more assured, confident listen, with several songs stripped back and refined to their very essence. A languid, unhurried pace has taken over, a sign perhaps that Lynch feels more at ease being front and centre in a discipline where previously he was content to lurk in the background, ceding the spotlight to those - Danger Mouse, Chrysta Bell, Julee Cruise, Angelo Badalamenti - he considered true professionals (he still refuses to play live and claims "I'm not a musician… and I'm not really a singer").

Anyone even vaguely familiar with his filmography will recognise the imagery he paints with; a skewered view of 50s Americana reflected by a dystopian mirror, populated by a rogues gallery of schemers and oddballs. Femme fatales and psychopaths, a favourite Lynch combination, loom large, the ghosts of Dorothy Vallens, Fred Madison, and Frank Booth drifting into view alongside all the other inhabitants of the strange, parallel dimension that's all his own. It's no surprise either that he covers Bob Dylan, another American storyteller who's consistently found the fringes of society to be the most fertile creative grounds, nor that he chose 'The Ballad of Hollis Brown', a desolate tale of poverty and frustration on the wild plains of a once great country, and a timely reminder that when bubbles burst, the poor and the needy are always the first to be crushed under tumbling dreams.

Driving, and the romantic lure of the road trip, have been central themes in many of his best films; interminable time spent criss-crossing open highways, constant flights to and from unknown dangers. Perhaps the root of this obsession lies in the restless, pioneering American spirit, or a metaphor for the journey - and all its hidden detours - that is life itself. Either way that rhythm, the ceaseless, steady beat of the engine and the passing of milestones, permeates almost every track, a metronomic drive shuffling everything forward. It's there in the staccato 50s guitar notes of 'Star Dream Girl' that build into a fiery mass, the bustling unease of 'Say It', and the sultry chug of 'Sun Can't Be Seen No More', a hazy, bluegrass-tinged meander that speaks to the idyllic Middle America of his youth.

Even his more modern sketches share this trait, like the cold, metallic drum machines of the robotic 'Last Call' and the vaguely hip-hop beat underpinning 'Wishin' Well', while 'I Want You' borrows the sinister, buzzsaw drone from Massive Attack's 'Angel' and drops it into sparse, twisted dreamscape, an ominous refrain of "I want you / All the time" reverberating throughout. But it's not all dark tension and ambiguous murkiness; in fact, the album's best moments come when the sun pokes out from behind the clouds and Lynch the hopeless romantic takes over. 'Cold Wind Blowin'' is a hauntingly bittersweet, electro-blues ballad about lost love, a sentiment resolutely blown away by the shimmering euphoria of 'The Line It Curves', a track soaked in blissed-out, Balearic vibes and happy optimism.

Most stunning of all is the bonus track and Lykki Li collaboration 'I'm Waiting Here'. Apparently conceived when "she came with something together in her head… I sat back, watched it unfold and smoked cigarettes," it nails the feeling of faded, vintage Hollywood glamour that so many, most notably Lana del Rey, have dabbled in over the last few years. An ethereal, dreamy masterpiece of softly arpeggiated guitars and glacial echoes, Li's breathy, swoonsome spoken interlude - "We made love / Under a dark moon / I've burned a lot of bridges" - plays on the same hope-fear-American Dream emotions as del Rey's soliloquy on 'Ride' before bursting into a glorious crescendo; no wonder Lynch was happy to give her free reign.

A common complaint regarding Clown was that the songs - and by extension, the album itself - lacked a linear narrative; they flickered in and out of existence, not really going anywhere, not having structure. That's not quite the case here, but neither does it matter; as always with Lynch, it's not about the destination, but rather the journey. Conclusions and certainty have never been high on his agenda, and anyone seeking fully rounded story arcs or concrete affirmations are looking entirely in the wrong place. Instead, Lynch serves as a spirit guide on a trip to a dark, surrealist place people don't want to admit exists, and yet is in all of us. That world - his world - is bubbling under the surface of civility, in alleys and shadows and shabby back rooms, and The Big Dream is just his latest triumphant attempt to take us there. Film, painting, sculpture, interior design, coffee, and now music; it seems there's nothing he can't master, and it'll be fascinating to see what he attempts next.