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Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars

July 18, 2019

Springsteen is almost 70 years old and this is his 19th studio album.  He is still very much in the game. This is an outstanding album – it may be his best since The Rising in 2002 and rivals his glory days. This is an interesting tweak on the Springsteen sound: an orchestra and pedal steel. Where Bruce used to use the E Street Band or synths, he is now using an orchestra and pedal steel. It does not sound saccharine, it sounds sweet.  This really works.

Writing an autobiography and doing Broadway was clearly inspiring for The Boss. I have said this before about acts like the Stones, McCartney, Simon, and Dylan – these late-career masterpieces are proof that guys like Springsteen are true rock stars.

The album is filled with great songs and gorgeous arrangements.  Bruce’s voice is an easy cowboy-drawl and is the perfect match for this batch of songs.

Bruce finds the same down and out characters on the west coast as he found on the Jersey shore. The location has changed the details, but the essence remains the same: finding a moment of glory – celebrating Saturday night and ignoring Monday. From “Sleepy Joe’s Cafe:”

I come through the door and feel the workweek slip away

See you out on the floor and Monday morning’s a million miles away

Per his website:

…the album draws inspiration in part from the Southern California pop records of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

I couldn’t agree more.  The songs have the feel of the great Jimmy Webb hits of that period.  I can’t help but hear Glen Campbell singing these songs – I think Bruce would be alright with that.

From → Music Reviews

  1. Haven’t checked in with Springsteen for more than a decade, but you’re selling this to me with the Jimmy Webb comparisons.

  2. Good take. I’m bracketing some time to give this a good listen. I like his western leanings.

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