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Author Topic: Bruce Springsteen: High Hopes (album review)  (Read 6793 times)
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« on: February 09, 2014, 06:22:20 pm »

Bruce Springsteen says he isn’t done yet.  In fact, he claims he has another fifty years in him.  With his level of energy at live performances, it wouldn’t surprise me if that were true.  All kidding aside, Bruce Springsteen’s music is as relevant today as it was through out the 70s, 80s, 90s and into the new millennium.  THE BOSS, as he is affectionately called by his fans, still has something to say, musically speaking.  Springsteen is always writing something for an album, then puts it aside to work on something else for another album he started before but never finished.  You could say in a way, he’s obsessed with music.  Why shouldn’t he be?  It’s his life, it’s his job and he’s done one hell of a job at it for nearly five decades.  Is it any wonder Springsteen is also called “the hardest working white man in show business”?  What other rock artist puts on 3 to almost 4 hour shows?  Bruce Springsteen is the only name that is mentioned.  

Hot off the heels of his last highly acclaimed album Wrecking Ball comes High Hopes.  It’s mix of old songs new songs and cover versions.  There are 12 songs on this new record.  Rest assured there are some gems on the album that will likely become real classic here.

The album open with the title track of the album High Hopes. which was originally written by Tim Scott Mcconnell.  In typical Springsteen Fashion it's one of those songs that has a great rhythm which makes you wanna dance and the lyrics make you sing along.  It’s a pure rocker.  Guest guitarist Tom Morello (best know for his work with Audioslave and Rage Against The Machine) adds his own stamp to the song.  Morello could have been a bit more creative with his guitar here.  The high energy of the song however prevail and will likely be a fan favourite at live shows.  It’s certainly the perfect opener for the album.

The gangster inspired Harry’s Place is one Springsteen wrote for his album The Rising but he never finished it until now.  It’s got a terrific song and has a nice laid back kind of groove to it but once again Morello wasn’t as creative on the guitar as we know he can be.

American Skin 41 Shots (written by Springsteen) is one Bruce and The E Street Band have been playing live for many year but it was never recorded for a studio album.  A song about the prejudice faced by blacks in America.  This studio version will likely satisfy everyone who loved the live version.  Spingsteen outdoes himself on this and guitar infusion of Tom Morello gives the song renewed energy and spirit.

Next up is Chris Baily’s Just Like Fire Would and of course Bruce puts his on spin on it.  The band is on the money here and really does burn it up like fire would.  Great music, lyrics and singing.

Down In The Hole (also penned by Springsteen) is a brilliantly dark and hauntingly lonely minor’s tale.  The far away sound of a hammer hitting rock paints the picture.  No artist today writes a song that actually tells a hard life story the way Bruce does here.  Patty Scialfa adds a wonderful to the ghost like imagery with her humming vocal.  Simply wonderful and one of the album’s best tracks.

At times Springsteen is a preacher, pastor and teacher and on Heaven’s Wall Reverend Springsteen inspires his E Street congregation to sing the gospel, raise their hands and join him on a rock ’n’ roll journey of religion and spirituality.

Frankie Fell in Love is pure Springsteen (also written by Bruce) and a full on rocker that only THE BOSS can deliver.  The E Street band in full force.  Somewhat reminiscent of Darlington County from Bruce’s best selling album to date, Born In The USA from 1984.  Both Nils Lofgren and Steve Van Zandt share guitar duties and vocals along with Bruce.

This Is Your Sword speaks to the heart in a simple way.  Defend and protect what is most precious, your family.  Another Springsteen penned tune that in its simplicity delivers a powerful message.  The lyrics paint the picture and the music is a wonderfully orchestrated soundtrack.

Another example of Springsteen’s ability paint a picture is Hunter Of Invisible Game.  This is such a beautifully written song and Bruce’s vocals elevate the song.

The Ghost Of Tom Joad must be one of Tom Morello’s favourite Springsteen tracks.  Originally written by Springsteen in the mid 90s and from the album with the same name.  This newly recorded version may have the same lyrics as it’s original but musically the new version packs a powerful punch.  The explosion of duelling guitars by Springsteen and Morello does go on a bit long though.  As the saying goes, less is more.  Not only does Tom Morello share the guitar spotlight with Bruce here but also the vocals.  When they’re singing together, their voice do blend together very nicely and perhaps that’s how it should have been done rather than Morello do some of the vocals on his own.  It is after all a Bruce Springsteen album.

The Wall is such a wonderful piece of music and it speaks to the soul.  When Bruce sings a ballad, there’s a tone of loneliness and sadness in the delivery, it makes you hang on to every word.  The soulful sound of the organ and saxophone give the song soul and spirit.  What would have or could have made the song even more extraordinary is powerful instrumental middle piece and then end it the way it was on the album.  It’s a gem nonetheless.

Closing out the album is a wonderful version of Suicide’s Dream Baby Dream and Springsteen almost hypnotizes you with the words that keep repeating and the echoing organ.  Bruce played the song during his solo Devils & Dust tour from 2005.

High Hopes does include some terrific tunes and the highlights among them are The Wall, Harry’s Place, Down In The Hole, Dream Baby Dream, Frankie Fell In Love to name a few.  There is something on the album for every Springsteen fan.

Album rating: 8 our of 10
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