Hey, all you crazy cats out there in radio land. This is Peter’s first post on this blogger thing. (Let’s see how it goes.) You have noticed from listening that I’ve always been pretty big into Bruce Springsteen, and if you watched the Super Bowl – or just the half-time show, like me – than you know the The Boss still rocks. He has a new record that came out last month called “Working On A Dream.” I reviewed it for the Arcadia newspaper, so I thought I’d throw that up here. (Full text of the article included after this paragraph.) Also, make sure to listen in this Wednesday at 8, since I’ll probably throw in a new Bruce Springsteen track from his latest record.
If you saw the half-time show during the Super Bowl, you know that Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band can still bring down the house, even after some thirty-six years together. It’s good to know in these uncertain times (musical and otherwise) that some things are in flux, while others simply never change.
This is the same impression one gets from the very beginning of Springsteen’s latest record, Working On A Dream. Looking at his career as a whole, it seems to fit right in, but a newcomer may be confused by the eclectic album. The Boss shows his chops in a wide variety of genres, from the simple rock n’ roll we know and love on “My Lucky Day” and straight-up blues on “Good Eye,” to the undeniable country twang of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” The opening gambit is an eight-minute epic called “Outlaw Pete,” a song filled with bold, insistent strings and some of The Boss’ best song-writing to date. However, the album is very much about a kind of decent; our generation might expect such a lengthy, adventurous piece to come at the end of the album, but Bruce starts of strong and brings it back down from there. Even in individual songs, there is a similar tactic, and you will find long, atmospheric outros at the end of the charming “Queen of the Supermarket” and the chilling “The Last Carnival” alike.
If there’s a problem to be found with the album, it’s a matter of arrangement within the songs. Fans of the album Nebraska (and even, to a lesser extent, Devils and Dust) will find the same amazing song-writing, but none of the haunting, infectious sparseness of those older songs. For example, the strings section in “Tomorrow Never Knows” comes across as far too tacky for a Bruce Springsteen record. One might be dissatisfied with this apparent over-production on some tracks, yearning for more of the rock guitar that manifests itself on only a few tracks, such as “What Love Can Do.”
Still, anyone who is worried about Springsteen going soft can put those fears to rest. As the title track suggests, The Boss and his latest record are full of some hopeful yearnings, holding on to the American dream and taking on all comers. Yet the album’s last track, “The Wrestler,” consists of a sparse arrangement that is primarily just piano, guitar, and vocals. With this song, Springsteen finishes the record by focusing on the kind of stark and beautiful melancholy that is as definitive of his America (think “Highway Patrolman”) as the persistent hope in his music.