If you know me, one of the last things you would expect to find on my blog is a Bruce Springsteen album review, but don’t worry – I have not run out of stuff to write about, and there is a method to my madness here.
You see, I have been a closet Springsteen fan for a long time, and his gloriously lunchbucket songs like “Thunder Road”, “The River” and “Born to Run” are Americana at its best. But Wrecking Ball could be the best album he has ever put out. This is his 17th studio album, and you will not find the complete E-Street lineup on this disk, though there are a few unexpected guest stars.
There are 13 tracks on his latest release, and 11 are new Springsteen songs in which he takes his usual working-class laments and moves them to a more global scale. By the way, one of them is a cover one of his own songs (“Land of Hopes and Dreams”), that he had previously only released on his Live in New York City album Though all of the themes are political, I do not see this as a political album because he is not taking sides, just pointing out how completely effed up our world is. Compounding this somber theme is an overall sense of hopelessness and anger that I have not seen the Boss embrace so completely before. There is no light at the end of this tunnel.
You might think Springsteen has been here before with The Rising (also a fantastic album), which he made in response to 9/11, but that album had a message of healing and American values, while Wrecking Ball addresses our fiscally and morally bankrupt society. He sets his sights on big businesses that rape our country and environment and politicians that have given up on trying to make our country a better place to live in, and who treat politics like just another business.
Besides the great lyrics, there is also a lot going on musically with Wrecking Ball. This is his first album with co-producer Ron Aniello, who has done a fantastic of making Bruce’s ideas come to life. Guest stars include Rage against the Machine’s resident guitar god Tom Morello, and even the late great Clarence Clemmons makes an appearance.
One high points of the album are “Death to My Hometown”, which is a pretty damned sad second act of his hit “My Hometown” from Born in the U.S.A. But my favorite track is “Jack of All Trades,” which is full of heart-felt anger and frustration. This really is Bruce Springsteen at his best, and you need to check this one out.
Trust me on this one, Wrecking Ball is a winner.