Ladies and gentleman, Bruce Springsteen has still got it. His newest album, Wrecking Ball, certainly isn’t as edgy as many have made it to sound. But it is damn good. Are the two even related? Anyway, the album starts off with mostly familiar Springsteen sounds – Everyman, patriotic lyrics and an acoustic/electric guitar mixture accompanied by a string-synth line playing through the chorus. It’s a pleasant opener and has catches my attention.
The second song, “Easy Money” is not too far off the typical sound either, but we start to hear Bruce play around with some atypical yelps and stomp-clap patterns. It’s good and and as I initially listened to the album this song nudges me towards a singer desire to see Bruce at some summer festival.
“Shackled and Drawn”, sounds like a mixture of an old Irish tune crossed with an all-American sing-along. In it, Bruce’s voice is a bit more on display, but you will happy to know, and hopefully notice for yourself, The charm hasn’t left his vocal chords yet.
#4 on the album, “Jack of all Trades”, features a more gentle and introspective version of our friend, The Boss. A simple piano and some light horns acts make up a majority of the song’s skeleton, but the sng waxes and wanes until it ends on a beautiful outro that ends up being the loudest part if the song.
Again in “Death to My Hometown”, we hear more of the Irish favors we sampled in “Shackled and Drawn”. I haven’t listened to Bruce’s catalog to extensively, but I’m starting to think I might find some a bit p’ Irish there.
In odd form, Bruce shows some appreciation for The RnB star, Usher, in the sixth track, “This Depression”. Not actually, but as Bruce sings, “this is my confession,” I couldn’t help but think it. If you hadn’t guessed from the title, “This Depression” is another introspective track that hints at the economic hardships are country has endured recently.
The album’s title track is likely one of the strongest on the album. Maybe I’m just a sucker for songs that piece by piece grows into a romping good time, but I’ll stand by my original statement. You can’t help but feel like you are hearing The Boss in his prime again. Sure, it doesn’t necessarily sound like Born in the USA-Bruce… at least not sonically, but it sure feels like a good time. Although it isn’t the catchiest on the album, it is my favorite.
“You’ve Got It” almost doesn’t sound Bruce singing in the first few moments and is probably closest to country music the album comes, but it’s not bad. Certainly not my favorite on the album… But not bad.
The ninth track on the album, “Rocky Ground”, is definitely one of the the least characteristic of Bruce. Starting with a sampled recording of a max exclaiming something about a soldier and a guest vocalist, the track isn’t too far down the rabbit hole. Yet, compared to what we’ve heard on the album so far, it’s a genre that Bruce has yet to to dabble in. Seriously, there is some rapping and “porn” music-guitar, although somehow it still sounds pretty good.
The beginning of “Land of Hopes and Dream” will have you thinking the latter half of the album is a bit more experimental. Don’t be fooled. It eventually finds its way back, mostly (minus the drum machine), into Bruce’s wheel house. And, how could it not be, the sing is called “Land of Hopes and Dreams”, for Pete’s sake. It might as well be titled Born In The USA II. That might be misleading. I don’t mean based on the song sonically, just the title and the lyrical content.
For whatever reason, “We Are Alive” has me thinking Bruce was binge consuming Mumford & Sons, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and the Andy Griffith Show. You’ll have to let me know if you agree… Either way, I like the result, quite a bit. Banjo and eerily similar melodic hooks are always welcome.
The album’s truest slow burner, “Swallowed Up (In The Belly Of The Whale)” has some very interesting moments. Although I thoroughly enjoy certain subtle moments in the song, they don’t come often enough and the lyrics are a little too obvious making this my least favorite track on the album.
Hello, Bruce. Have you met my friends Flogging Molly? I think you guys might get along swimmingly… But seriously the album closer, “America Land”‘ could not remind me more of Irish rockers, Flogging Molly, any more. And, trust me, that isn’t a bad thing. The song makes fora wonderful send off to the album. Bruce even seems to sing with a bit of an Irish accent as he finishes in his raspy voice, “…will make his home in the America land”.
All in all, do I think this album will ever be a hit among any large, youthful population? No, but that actually kind of bothers me. I think this album deserves a lot more recognition than it is getting from the college crowd. Sure, we aren’t going to play it at parties, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it during the summer months and develop our own little crush on Bruce Springsteen similar to the crush I’m sure most of our parents had on the man. So, find a way to listen to this album. I don’t think you will regret it.
This post was written by
Chuck Ryan – who has written 821 posts on MTIB. More commonly known as Adam Rondeau, Chuck founded Music That Isn't Bad in 2009, has an addiction to live music and in his free time trains seeing-eye dogs using old Phil Collins albums.
MP3s are for promotional purposes only. Please buy the album or song if you like what you hear. We have provided 'Support The Artist' links for your convenience. If you have ownership inquiries regarding a track we have featured, please contact us directly. We will be happy to take it down at your request. For more information click on the Contact tab at the top of the page.