Album Review: Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball – Released March 5th 2012

Bruce Springsteen 

Bruce Springsteen releases his 17th studio album Wrecking Ball on March 5th 2012. It features 11 brand new Springsteen recordings produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen and executive producer Jon Landau. Having just announced a 2012 US and Europe tour with the E Street Band it’s hard not to get excited about this new album. 

Wrecking Ball is Springsteen’s latest album making it three years since his last release. Springsteen’s fame of course puts enormous pressure on any new release to do well, but even as a stand-alone album I think I would be impressed with it. It is a strange mix of country and western, with elements of gospel and even Irish folk vibes, and in a strange way it works really well! What makes Springsteen such a long-standing successful artist is his ability to keep surprising us, offering us something new, while maintaining his original identity. 

Speaking about the album, long-term manager Jon Landau states "Bruce has dug down as deep as he can to come up with this vision of modern life. The lyrics tell a story you can't hear anywhere else and the music is his most innovative of recent years. The writing is some of the best of his career and both veteran fans and those who are new to Bruce will find much to love on 'Wrecking Ball.'" 

There is something particularly clever about the way lyrics are used in this album. They are a far cry from commercial cheesy pop – there is something so genuine that suggests a maturity that can only have come from Springsteen’s own wealth of experience. The music itself is somewhat gritty and raw – cinematically it takes me to an American pool bar, littered with ex-military, cowboys, a few bikers and the odd Irish scoundrel (maybe I’m getting too carried away here?) 

By far my favorite track has to be Easy Money. I love the way the Irish sounding strings blend with the rock styled drum beats and smooth electric guitar. I also think it’s one of the best tracks to show off Springsteen’s rougher, edgier voice. I also have a bit of a soft spot for the track Jack of All Trades. Upon first listening it passed me by, but it was funnily enough the track I returned back to upon second listening. Some fans have accused it of being too much like a “dirge”, but I feel lyrically it’s one of the deepest and more revealing tracks on the album. It’s certainly slow moving, often giving way to a simple accompaniment for the voice, however when the richer brass sounds enter it becomes quite beautiful. What I find interesting is that it seems to recreate a patriotic sound (if there is such a thing?) that sits perfectly with the lyrics “I’m a jack of all trades, we’ll be alright”. It is also a somewhat menacing song in that it seems to focus on seeing through the hard times but there is also a definite sense of blame, giving it a more political edge that is fitting in regards to the economic turmoil we’ve seen in recent years. 

If I’m allowed another favorite I’d have to go with Death to My Hometown. Again, with an ironic twist, the lyrics are menacing but the music is particularly up-beat, strong and determined. It reminds me of the film Gangs of New York and out of all the tracks on the album I have a feeling this is the one that will be getting the most plays on my iPod! 

It’s a great album that I find hard to fault. Springsteen has retained his charismatic honest authenticity whilst bringing something original to his production. And perhaps I may be getting controversial here, but given the choice between this and McCartney’s latest offerings of Kisses on the Bottom then there really is not contest – it’s Springsteen all the way!